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Chancellor of the exchequer kwasi kwarteng© Provided by The Telegraph/Photo Courtesy Telegraph

For households, the Chancellor brought forward the cut to the basic rate of income tax from 20pc to 19pc and reversed the National Insurance rise - a giveaway worth £22bn next year. 

It was sold as a radical departure in Britain’s tax policy, the biggest cuts for 50 years. But the Chancellor gave with one hand and took with the other.

Kwarteng’s mini-Budget is as much about what the Chancellor didn’t do as what he did. He crucially decided to keep Rishi Sunak’s policy of freezing multiple tax thresholds for four years, a stealth raid that has been turbocharged by inflation.

“If it is tax cutting, it's not very tax cutting [when] taken in the round,” says Tom Clougherty, research director and head of tax at the Centre for Policy Studies.

“They did cut National Insurance rates but they had only raised them in April… the income tax basic rate cut Rishi Sunak had already announced, and it's been brought forward by year so again that’s a bit of a tax cut but not a huge one.” 

Clougherty says the cuts need to be weighed up against “the year by year impact of the threshold freeze”.

The market-rattling mini-Budget was perhaps not as radical as investors feared when the full picture on tax is considered, experts say.

As Britain emerged from the pandemic borrowing binge, Rishi Sunak decided to freeze a number of tax thresholds for four years, such as the personal allowance and higher rate limit on income tax. 

Rising prices and wages over that period will push taxpayers into higher bands, generating more revenue for the Exchequer. This stealth tax was intended to help shore up the public finances but the “fiscal drag” effect has proved to be enormous thanks to the highest inflation for 40 years. 

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that for every £1 households gained from the personal tax cuts announced by Kwarteng, they will lose £2 from the freezes to tax thresholds and benefit increases by 2025-26. The Exchequer will get a £41bn boost from households paying extra tax under this fiscal drag effect but families will get just £20bn back in personal tax giveaways.

Doug McWilliams, deputy director at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, says: “The fiscal drag pushes up the tax take for virtually everyone, much more than the 1p cut the income tax rate.

“There were some taxes that were cut: stamp duty and so on. There were some taxes that would have gone up that he didn't put up. These are genuine gains compared with the alternatives.”

The average household will face a 3.3pc hit to their incomes, equivalent to £1,450, from the freezes alone. The personal allowance freeze, for example, will cost the typical basic and higher rate taxpayer £500 and £3,000 by 2025-26, respectively.  

Not only are taxpayers paying more to the Exchequer from fiscal drag but more Britons than ever before face demands from the taxman. 

A record-matching 66pc of adults will be paying income tax by 2025-26 - an additional 1.4m - while an all-time high of 14pc will pay the higher rate, an extra 1.6m. The proportion of taxpayers paying the higher rate is double the share in 2009-10 and almost four times that in 1990.

Tom Waters, economist at the IFS, says: “The tax burden on households will be going up in the coming years and that’s the combined consequences of two offsetting effects: the tax cuts that have been announced and these fiscal drag freezes.”

“They are less transparent and the second thing is they're a lot more uncertain,” he says.

“Over the Conservative leadership contest, there was an enormous amount of discussion about the National Insurance rise and virtually none about the income tax threshold freeze,  even though the income tax threshold freeze was actually a bigger tax rise than the NICs rise.”

Indefinite freezes, such as the £150,000 additional tax rate threshold, are “particularly unjustifiable” as they are not typically announced, he says.

This has long been a tactic used by the Government to stealthily either boost tax revenue or reduce spending in real terms by freezing the cash value of the thresholds. 

The problem with the sneaky strategy is that the amount raised or saved from the policy cannot be controlled by the Chancellor. Instead it depends entirely on inflation and wages, which are out of the control of ministers.

Perhaps one of the more absurd examples is the £10 per year Christmas bonus, which is paid every December to pensioners and people on certain benefits. 

As the IFS points out, the bonus was set at £10 in 1977 but has been frozen at that level ever since, becoming less and less generous each year. If it had increased in line with prices, the Christmas Bonus would be worth £56. 

This effect becomes quite a squeeze on incomes when applied to the biggest taxes and benefits. If the income tax personal allowance had not been frozen, the point at which workers begin paying it would rise from £12,570 in 2021-22 to £12,950 in 2022-23. Over a four-year freeze this effect is only amplified, causing a large impact.

Given how much the Chancellor will rake in from fiscal drag, some believe the extreme reaction to the mini-Budget was excessive. 

Gilt yields soared above 4pc and the pound crashed to record lows in the days after amid fears that Kwarteng was rolling the dice with the country’s finances. But fiscal drag is likely to help the public finances considerably, something an official forecast by the Office for the Budget Responsibility may have shown if the Chancellor had allowed it.

McWilliams says: “The extent to which the markets got spooked by the Budget was partly on the basis of them not really being very good at doing the mental arithmetic, which was actually available at the time.

“We showed it was a much smaller Budget than people had been led to think.”

The CEBR believes the fiscal position is far stronger than markets assume because of a combination of fiscal drag, an overestimation of the cost of tax cuts by the Treasury and an expected fall in gas prices. It expects borrowing to fall to £64bn in 2023/24, with the Government running a surplus by 2025/26 if energy prices ease as forecast.

“It’s one of the things that makes the slightly hysterical reaction to the mini-Budget quite hard to wrap your head around,” says Clougherty.

“We really were only going back to the tax burden of like a year ago,” he says.

“There's a reason why freezing thresholds is quite a good way to raise money and it's because people don't notice it as much as the more explicit increases to tax rates. 

“But maybe equally, you don't get the fiscal conservative benefits of raising taxes in that way, again because it flies somewhat under the radar.”  By Tom Rees, Telegraph

 
In Summary

•On August 16, 2022, EACC issued a Demand Notice to the company, and to the nine officials to remit the above amount.

•The Commission said the defendants failed to pay back the amount as demanded prompting it to file a recovery suit in the High Court on Tuesday.


Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has filed a suit seeking to recover Sh21,697,500 allegedly embezzled by a private company.

The private company is believed to have been in collision with nine officials from the State Department of Correctional Services.

The Commission said it has already investigated the allegations of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, abuse of office, breach of trust and fraud against the aforementioned. 

EACC established that during the Financial Years 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, the firm, fraudulently received a total of Sh21,697,500 from the State Department of Correctional Services on account of goods (food and rations) not supplied.

"A fraudulent scheme was perpetrated jointly by all of the defendants, involving the making of false procurement documents including requisition forms, Local Purchase Orders (LPOs), delivery notes, inspection and acceptance certificates, and Invoices which were used to support payment vouchers," the anti-graft body said.

It added that payment vouchers supported by falsified documents were then used by the officers to effect the payments.

On August 16, 2022, EACC issued a Demand Notice to the company, and to the nine officials to remit the above amount.

The Commission said the defendants failed to pay back the amount as demanded prompting it to file a recovery suit in the High Court on Tuesday.

The company is accused of falsifying documents and submitting falsified documents to facilitate payment for goods not supplied.

It's also accused of transferring some funds to other recipients in a bid to conceal the fraudulently acquired funds and using the funds to purchase properties for their benefit or in a bid to conceal the proceeds of corruption and economic crime. 

The nine officials were jointly faulted with five offences.

They include failure to adhere to ethical standards in the execution of their duties as Public Officers contrary to the Law and abuse of office powers.

Others include engaging in conduct that contravenes the national values and principles of governance provided for under Article 10 and values and principles of public service as provided under Article 232 of the Constitution.

They are also faulted for being in violation of section 42(3) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003 with regard to conflict of interest.

EACC regretted that despite efforts to curb fraud and graft, cases of individual public officers robbing public funds continue to thrive.

"This points to possible collusion, connivance or abdication of duty by accounting officers," the Commission concluded.

"EACC, therefore, calls upon all accounting officers of public entities to take up their responsibilities in protecting the public funds entrusted under their care and control."

It pointed out that under the Public Finance and Management Act, the officers have a mandatory legal obligation to protect public funds from misuse or embezzlement. By SHARON MWENDE, The Star

  • Former Captain Victor Wanyama in action for the Harambee Stars against Ghana in 2019 TWITTER HARAMBEE STARS 
  • Retired Harambee Stars captain and CF Montreal midfielder, Victor Wanyama elicited mixed reactions after he announced that he would be leaving the Major League Soccer (MLS) side at the end of the season. 

    Wanyama will part ways with CF Montreal in December after his contract expires, with no signs of extensions in the works. 

    This will mark Wanyama's two-year deal at the club coming to a close with five goals and seven assists in 79 appearances. 

    Current Club CF Montreal midfielder, Victor Wanyama plays FIFA at his home.
    Current Club CF Montreal midfielder, Victor Wanyama plays FIFA at his home.
    THE STANDARD
     

    Salary

    According to MLS official site, Wanyama earns Ksh24 million a month, totalling to Ksh290,280,000 annually. The player also pockets an annual guaranteed compensation rising to Ksh373, 937,123.  

    The annual guaranteed compensation comprises a player's base salary, all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of the player's contract, inclusive of marketing bonus and agent's fees. 

    Assets

    Wanyama, who is no stranger to success, has amassed close to two decades in professional football with his career kicking off in the Kenya Premier League (KPL). Over the years, he has accumulated immense wealth from playing in top leagues. 

    In 2018, he toured Kenya with a customised Volkswagen Crafter CR53 Maxi. The luxurious vehicle was estimated to cost an average of Ksh25 million with features such as interior and exterior CCTV cameras, a play station, rotating seats, a fridge, 3D TV screens and a coffeemaker. 

    Wanyama also boasts of a Ksh15 million Range Rover Sport, as well as a 2017 Bentley model that is estimated to cost around Ksh20 million.

    Reports indicate that during his tenure at Tottenham Hostpur, Wanyama bought several properties in Kenya and a Ksh60 million property in the United Kingdom. In 2018 during a season's break, he had revealed his plans of purchasing a luxury house in Zanzibar but the plans were quashed after the EPL season resumed.  

    In addition, Wanyama owns a world-class academy in Busia called Victor Wanyama Foundation- which focuses on sports, education, health and wildlife.

    Aside from sports activities, the foundation sponsors needy students through scholarships, creates job opportunities and sensitizes people on the protection of wildlife threatened by illegal trade. 

    Mathare residents sanitizing their hands in a past event by the Victor Wanyama Foundation, on the 27th March 2020.
    Mathare residents sanitizing their hands in a past event by the Victor Wanyama Foundation at Kiboro Primary School, on the 27th March 2020.
    KENYANS.CO.KE
     

Hyena and Massai | Photo: Oliver Höner, Leibniz-IZW

Pastoralists herding their livestock through the territories of spotted hyena clans along dedicated paths during daytime do not reduce the reproductive performance of hyena clans, nor elevate the physiological ‘stress’ of spotted hyenas.

This is the result of a new study led by scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). The scientists analysed 24 years of demographic and physiological data from eight spotted hyena clans – two of which were exposed to activities by pastoralists. The activities of pastoralists were predictable, diurnal and did not disrupt important behaviours in the mostly nocturnal hyenas. This may have allowed the population to perform well, the scientists suggest. The open access paper is published in the scientific journal “Journal of Animal Ecology”.

Human activities can strongly affect wildlife but the effects can vary greatly, depending on the type of activity and the characteristics of the wildlife species involved. To promote human-wildlife coexistence, it is therefore important to assess which activities are sustainable for a given species. Most past research has documented major changes in the behavioural response of such species to human activities, but did not examine whether such changes are indicative of the Darwinian fitness of wildlife (in terms of its survival and reproductive success) or physiological effects such as “stress” or allostatic load, which are much more relevant to conservation.

“Acquiring the long-term data for such research – especially on large, group-living carnivores, which may be particularly conflict-prone – is not easy because of the enormous financial and temporal demands involved. We assessed for the first time the Darwinian fitness and the physiological effects of a common human activity – livestock herding – in light of the biology and social system of our wildlife species”, explains first author Arjun Dheer, doctoral student at the Leibniz-IZW.

The investigation was conducted on eight clans of spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) living in the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Tanzania. “Livestock grazing and using mineral licks occurred predictably on a near-daily basis within the territories of two of our eight study clans between 1996 and 2016”, adds Dheer. This created a natural experiment of exposed and unexposed clans which the scientists exploited. “We tested whether the hyenas of the exposed clans had fewer surviving offspring than the unexposed hyenas and whether the herding activities increased the physiological ‘stress’ of the hyenas”, explains Dr Oliver Höner (Leibniz-IZW), head of the Ngorongoro Hyena Project and senior author of the paper.

To assess the fitness effects, the scientists used 24 years of detailed demographic data from the eight clans and to estimate physiological stress, they measured the concentration of glucocorticoid metabolites (fGMC) in 975 faeces from 475 hyenas. The team also accounted for the effects of additional ecological parameters such as disease outbreaks and the abundance of African lions (Panthera leo), the hyenas’ main competitor, and prey.

The main result was that hyena clans exposed to Maasai pastoralists moving through their territory with their livestock had similar juvenile recruitment and fGMC levels as unexposed clans. “Our results suggest that the hyenas in the Ngorongoro Crater coped well with daytime pastoralism”, explains Dheer. A likely explanation for the lack of detectable effect on hyenas is that the activity was predictable and minimally disruptive because it occurred during daytime.

“Hyenas are mostly nocturnal when it comes to critical behaviours such as hunting”, explains Höner. Even if pastoralist activities forced other critical hyena behaviours such as the nursing of young cubs into nighttime, it might not have been too much of an adjustment for them to make. “Spotted hyenas are behaviourally flexible. In other areas, they were observed to move their cubs to dens further away from the paths that pastoralists used, or to nurse more at night”, Höner says.

The authors caution that such results should not be extrapolated in uncritical fashion. “In areas where pastoralism is more intense and environmental conditions such as the abundance of wild prey are less favourable than in the Ngorongoro Crater, pastoralist activities may well have a significant detrimental effect even on a behaviourally highly flexible species such as the spotted hyena”, explains Höner. “Our investigation highlights the need to develop evidence-based coexistence strategies within a local context to benefit both stakeholders and wildlife.

It also underscores the importance of interpreting the effects of human activity in light of the socio-ecology of the species of conservation interest”, concludes Victoria Shayo (Head, Department of Wildlife and Rangeland Management, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority). Additional scientific analyses that cover a variety of anthropogenic activities and species – and that measure effects on fitness and physiology – will be conducive to promoting human-wildlife coexistence.  IZW

The scene of the mass shooting in Thailand - ViralPress© ViralPress

 

At least 31 people have been killed in a mass shooting at a children's nursery in Thailand.

 

Victims included 23 children, police said in a statement, adding that the gunman was an ex-police officer in the northeastern  Nong Bua Lam Phu province.

The attacker is said to have stormed the nursery with a gun and a knife before carrying out his attack and going on the run. 

A manhunt was launched, but the assailant later killed himself.  

The prime minister had alerted all agencies to take action and apprehend the culprit, a government spokesperson said.

The rate of gun ownership in Thailand is high compared with some other countries in the region but official figures do not include huge numbers of illegal weapons, many of which have been brought in across porous borders over the years from strife-torn neighbours.

Mass shootings are rare but in 2020, a soldier angry over a property deal gone sour killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations. By Gareth Davies, Telegraph

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