Beaches Link: Call for compo fund for schoolkids

In a draft submission by the Northern Beaches Secondary College Balgowlah Boys P & C, it states the committee does not support the current proposal as outlined in the Environmental Impact Study.But if the proposal goes ahead it insists a number of things be put in place, including a fund to compensate those who get sick or are injured due to the construction of the $14 billion tunnel.“A compensation fund for children and staff directly injured or affected by pollution and other safety hazards must be established in case of claims as a result of adverse health and safety effects caused by construction and pollution,” the P & C said in its submission.The P & C highlighted concerns around noise, saying boys will be exposed to possibly “unbearable” levels of during the school day and called for alternative spaces to be found for those taking exams.In terms of pollution and dust it said the government’s own report suggested asbestos could be released in the air during demolition works.“ … Balgowlah Boys Campus will have a high sensitivity to dust settlement effects and high risk of human health impacts given the short distance to the demolition, earthworks and surface construction works,” the P & C said.“Despite any measures to suppress dust during construction, we expect that dust will be experienced on the school grounds especially on windy days.“Dust will affect boys during recess and lunch breaks, outdoor school assemblies, PE classes, and use of Balgowlah Oval for sport and during recess and lunchtime.”It wrote that the EIS states “that there is the potential for dust emissions to contain contaminants mobilised through the disturbance of contaminated soils, and other hazardous materials (such as asbestos fibres or organic matter) during demolition of buildings and other structures”.In the submission the P & C said it was “deeply concerned about the adverse impacts of the construction and operation of the proposed Beaches Link Tunnel on our boys, the teachers and staff, the school grounds, and on Balgowlah Oval”. “These adverse impacts cover both the construction and operational phases of the proposed works which will severely impact on the whole school community in terms of noise, dust, vibration, access, disruption, traffic and road safety, air quality and health, and access to open space and sporting facilities.”Among the mitigative measures the P & C is calling for if the proposed construction goes ahead in its current form include:•High-capacity dust filtration units installed in every classroom at the school to help prevent fine particle pollution affecting and endangering the students’ health. •Air quality to be monitored before, during and after construction by independent consultants.•New bus stops for the B-Line and other express buses near the entrance to Dudley Street, with a safe pedestrian crossing across the green space above the tunnel portal to the northbound stop, to improve access to the bus network for Balgowlah Boys students and local Seaforth and Balgowlah residents.•Rebuilding the overpass so that it meets current universal access standards, including widening to allow faster and safer access by students to the green space across Sydney Road, lifts at both ends, and better access and amenity of the bridge into the school grounds. Once construction of the tunnel is finished there are plans to develop the site opposite the school for the benefit of the community.The Balgowlah Boys P & C said it would like to see the creation of multipurpose facilities for both sport and education that can be used by the school. Community rooms could be used as teaching spaces, toilet blocks as changing rooms for PE.Currently the school, which has seen excellent HSC results in recent years, is oversubscribedREVEALED: HOW MANY CARS THE TUNNEL WILL BRINGBy Jim O’Rourke, Feb 23If the Beaches Link twin tunnels get the go-ahead the number of vehicles travelling into and out of the northern beaches could jump by at least nine per cent, the council’s traffic experts predict.But traffic would be slashed on Warringah Rd, Mona Vale Rd and over the The Spit Bridge according to the Northern Beaches Council’s official submission to the tunnel’s environmental impact statement (EIS).The submission said the Link, which it described as a “long overdue piece of infrastructure”, would also “support the future growth of the Northern Beaches region”, especially around Brookvale, Dee Why and Frenchs Forest.NSW Government planners were criticised by the council for being “light on detail’ when it came to the effects of the project on minor roads around the tunnel entrances and exits at Balgowlah and Seaforth, which were “likely to attract additional traffic and suffer increased congestion”. The council voted on Tuesday night to endorse its 49-page response to the EIS — released on December 9 — and send it to the NSW Planning Department before the March 1 deadline for public submissions.An amendment was added to the submission, by Cr Stuart Sprott, to include an overhead bridge near the Seaforth portals to allow wildlife to move safely between Garigal National Park and the bushland around Manly Dam. State government planners have said the proposed toll road, linking the northern beaches with the Sydney motorway network at Cammeray, would cut travel times for locals wanting to travel to destinations like Sydney Airport.The EIS said that by 2037, there would also be less traffic on the three major roads into and out of the northern beaches with predictions of a 33 per cent reduction on Spit Road and 23 per cent less traffic on Warringah Rd.Traffic figures from the EIS Military and Spit roads are among the top 10 busiest road corridors in NSW, including 69,500 vehicles and 34,000 bus passengers crossing the Spit Bridge every day.Transport for NSW said Beaches Link would also ease congestion on the Roseville Bridge (used by 79,500 vehicles a day), Mona Vale Rd (56,000 vehicles a day) and Eastern Valley Way (28,000 vehicles a day).“It’s part of an integrated transport network, designed to boost public transport to and from the Northern Beaches, including opportunities for new express bus routes via the tunnel to the Sydney CBD, North Sydney and Macquarie Park,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.“The Wakehurst Parkway will be widened from one lane to two in each direction between Seaforth and Frenchs Forest as part of the Beaches Link project.”The council submission predicted increased travel times on Wakehurst Parkway, south of Oxford Falls; congestion around Balgowlah Boys High School and; “rat runs” through residential streets at North Balgowlah and Balgowlah Heights created by motorists trying to avoid tolls.Critics of Beaches Link said the council’s EIS submission showed the magnitude of problems the tunnel would create on local roads.Nerissa Levy, a spokeswoman for the Balgowlah Residents Group, said it demonstrated why transport experts “have told us all along that the tunnel isn’t a good solution for the northern beaches”.“Local road upgrades do not come as part of the tunnel, and the council is forced to beg fruitlessly for funding to avoid leaving our local roads in permanent gridlock,” Ms Levy said.“Wakehurst Parkway delays are predicted to rise from 4.5 minutes to 10 minutes due to increased traffic funnelling into the one intersection.“Council says Condamine St, Kenneth Rd, Balgowlah Rd, Rosebery St, Pittwater Rd, Sydney Rd, Warringah Rd all needed widening, turning lanes, new traffic lights or upgrades to intersections.“(These are) roads that struggle with traffic now, let alone with the increases in traffic predicted from the tunnel.“These problems give an indication of the increased housing development and extra traffic that’s coming with the tunnel, particularly on the weekends in summer.”The council declined to comment until after Tuesday night’s meeting.

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Sequoia Capital raises $195 million for its newest seed fund

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West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra Accuses Union Home Minister Amit Shah Of Spreading Misinformation On Fund Disbursement

West Bengal government spent Rs 3.1 lakh crore in these six years in different projects: Amit Mitra


West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Sunday accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of providing misinformation about disbursement of funds by the centre to the state during a political rally and challenged him for a debate.

He said the state government had received Rs 1.13 lakh crore from the centre in the last six years, which is “nothing more than one-third of what the Union minister claimed”.

Mr Shah, in his recent visit to the poll-bound West Bengal, had reportedly said the centre provided Rs 3.59 lakh crore to the state.

“He has given wrong, misleading and politically-motivated information. The centre, as a part of the federal structure, collects taxes from states and shares. We had received only Rs 1.13 lakh crore in the last 6 years  (FY14 to FY20),” Mr Mitra told reporters.


Referring to his estimate, Mr Mitra said the centre might have collected around Rs 5 lakh crore in these years in the form of direct and indirect taxes from West Bengal and sent only Rs 1.13 lakh crore through central schemes.

Mr Mitra said the West Bengal government had spent Rs 3.1 lakh crore in these six years in different projects, which are fully sponsored by the state, apart from expenditures like salary, pension and other administrative expenses.

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Kotak Emerging Equity Fund: Discovering hidden mid-cap gems

With the Budget broadly focussing on economic revival and long-term growth, mid-cap companies could benefit from the growing economy in the long run.

Investors with a high risk appetite can take exposure to the mid-cap segment and buy the units of Kotak Emerging Equity that predominantly invests in mid-cap stocks and has delivered consistent returns over the long term.

For instance, the fund has clocked 12.48 per cent and 19.5 per cent over the past three- and five-year time-frames beating the benchmark, Nifty Midcap TRI, returns of 6.9 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively.

Over the past three- and five-year periods, the fund is placed among the top quartile of the mid-cap category.

However, due to the volatility in the short term, in the past one year, the scheme has been in the second quartile. But the fund’s one-year return of 31 per cent marginally outperforms the category average return of 30.7 per cent.

Investors with a long-term horizon can also opt for the systematic investment plan (SIP) route to enhance their returns.

As per SEBI circulars on categorisation and rationalisation of mutual fund schemes, Kotak Emerging Equity moved from the mid- and small-cap category to the mid-cap one. Another scheme from the fund house, Kotak Midcap, which had been a mid-cap one, was moved to the small-cap category and renamed Kotak Small Cap Fund.

Thus, Kotak Emerging Equity is the only mid-cap fund of Kotak AMC, with 65-100 per cent of investment going into mid-cap companies and 0-35 per cent in large- and small-cap companies.


Performance and strategy

After containing the downside in 2018, the fund posted good returns of 8.8 per cent in 2019 compared with category’s 2.7 per cent. In the volatile 2020, though the mid-cap stocks took a beating initially, they later staged a recovery in line with the large-cap stocks.

The fund delivered 21.8 per cent returns in 2020, which is slightly below the category averageof 24.3 per cent — this could be attributed to the short-term volatility in the market. That said, the scheme has the potential to deliver higher returns over the long run.

The fund’s investment strategy centres around identifying the hidden growth potential of mid-sized companies. It invests in both value and growth stocks, and follows a buy-and-hold strategy. In general, the portfolio of the mid-cap segment exhibits higher volatility than large-caps.

On the valuation front, mid-caps and small-caps stocks are at a marginal premium to large-caps. However, the fund’s portfolio has an adequate mix of defensives and cyclicals, which can give downside protection when required.

Currently, the scheme has a 67 per cent exposure to mid-cap stocks; the balance is held in large-caps (13.7 per cent) and small-caps (18.6 per cent).

Industrial products are the top sector choice, followed by consumer durables, in which the fund has upped the allocation over the past year. On the other hand, it has trimmed its exposure to banking and finance sectors.

The scheme holds 65 stocks in its kitty. Supreme Industries, Coromandel International and The Ramco Cements are the top stock holdings that have delivered good returns, boosting the NAV over the past one year.

Some of the stocks added to the portfolio over the past one year are Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services, ICICI Bank, Blue Star, Gujarat Gas and Gland Pharma. Apart from the top four-five stocks, the exposure in the other individual stocks are below 3 per cent, which mitigates portfolio risk.

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Rather than increased taxes, borrowing to fund Budget stimulus, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Friday the Budget FY22 provides for enhanced government capital expenditure, especially in infrastructure, health and agriculture sector. The Budget also seeks private sector participation in a big way and provides space to set up of private DFIs, she said at a post-Budget interaction with top CEOs held by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Though the government will provide some capital for the proposed Development Financial Institution (DFI), the body will also raise capital from the market. In addition, the DFI Bill will provide legislative space for private DFIs.

Similarly, the asset reconstruction company to manage non-performing assets will be floated as a holding company by the banks themselves, with support from the government, she said.

“Contrary to the expectations of a Covid-19 tax, the Government has chosen to fund the Budget stimulus through higher borrowing, rather than increased taxes,” she said, as per a Finance Ministry statement. The spending push will focus on high multiplier areas like infrastructure which would facilitate private investments in power, roads, ports, airports, apart from healthcare and agriculture.

CII president Uday Kotak said the Budget focus on growth and transparency was on right track. Budget proposals also displayed the government approach of encouraging private enterprise and respecting the markets, he said.

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Employees Provident Fund: New taxation rule to affect 0.27% subscribers


The new EPF (Employees Provident Fund) taxation rule is expected to affect 1.23 lakh subscribers, sources in the Income Tax Department said on Thursday. This is 0.27 per cent of the total EPF subscribers.

There are 4.5 crore contributors’ accounts to EPF. Of these, more than 1.23 lakh accounts are High Networth Individuals (HNIs) who contributevery huge sums every month to their EPF accounts. Their total contribution is to the tune of ₹62,500 crore as of now. “The government is owing or paying an assured interest at the rate of 8 per cent with tax exemptions to these very high-income category persons at the cost of honest low and middle income, salaried class and other taxpayers,” said a source.


According to the Budget proposal, in order to rationalise tax exemption for the income earned by high-income employees, it is proposed to restrict tax exemption for the interest income earned on the employees’ contribution to various provident funds to the annual contribution of ₹2.5 lakh. This restriction shall be applicable only for the contribution made on or after April 1, 2021.


‘Removing disparity’

Explaining the rationale, the source said this has been done with a purpose to remove disparity among contributors and to ensure that HNIs who park huge sums – more than a crore of rupees per month – to misuse and game the provision of assured high interest are checked and do not distortedly earn at the cost of other honest taxpayers’ money.

Without disclosing any names of these HNI EPF contributors, the sources said that one of the highest contributors has more than ₹103 crore in his account, followed by two second highest ones having more than ₹86 crore each. Sources said that the top 20 HNIs have about ₹825 crore in their accounts, while top 100 HNI contributors have more than ₹2,000 crore.

Sources said such EPF account holders have on an average a corpus of ₹5.92 crore per person and thereby were earning very huge sum at the rate of ₹50.3 lakh per such person per annum as tax free assured interest in a very scheming manner at the cost of the salaried class and other taxpayers. The government has done away with this disparity of paying huge sum of tax-free interest to HNIs at the cost of honest average salaried class contributor and taxpayers.

Sources reiterated that since any tax exemption is provided through taxpayers’ money, it was unfair to allow a small group of HNIs to misuse a welfare facility and earn wrongfully tax-free income as assured interest return, adding that average normal EPF or GPF contributor would not be affected by the removal of anomaly in the system prevailing over a long period of time.


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New allegations of pork barrelling over a $177 million bushfire relief fund

The funding also included more than $3.95 million to Snowy Valleys Council to construct infrastructure at the Batlow Caravan Park for itinerant workers. More than $3.5 million was allocated for a new cider manufacturing and distribution centre.

Projects related specifically to fire damage included the Wombeyan Cave Road at Bullio, which received $8 million, and the Bilpin Fruit Bowl, which received $1.23 million to upgrade damaged infrastructure.

However, other bushfire-affected electorates including the Blue Mountains say they were never told about the fund, as reported by Michael West Media this week.

A subsequent “open” round of $250 million in grants was promoted with a detailed assessment process late last year, for which applications closed on Thursday.

The government is facing accusations the first round of funding was kept secret from some of the worst bushfire-affected areas.


“There are still people across the state living in tents and caravans and local businesses struggling to stay open after the fires, and we have Coalition ministers doling out money based on politics rather than local need,” inquiry chair, Greens MP David Shoebridge said.

“It is now essential for the council grants inquiry to be extended to keep an even closer watch on how the next $250 million is issued.”

Mr Shoebridge said the lack of transparency had the hallmarks of the controversial Stronger Communities Grants Fund which is the subject of the ongoing parliamentary inquiry. That fund handed out $250 million worth of grants to local councils in mostly Coalition-held electorates in the lead up to the 2019 state election.

Mr Shoebridge will move a motion to order the production of all relevant documents to the bushfire funding when Parliament returns next month.

Fellow committee member and Labor MP John Graham accused the government of “doubling down on its pork barrelling,” despite knowing its grants processes were under scrutiny.

“This model in which they are just picking community groups, giving them money and getting away with it has to stop,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Regional NSW, which is led by Deputy Premier John Barilaro, said the bushfire relief fund was a “staged program” that was not yet complete.

“[The Department] worked closely with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency to agree on an initial set of known, priority, shovel-ready projects that met the criteria set under the national Bushfire Local Economic Recovery framework and were suitable for early co-funding,” he said.

He said the open round would prioritise the most fire-impacted communities across NSW.

Labor’s emergency services spokeswoman Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle slammed the initial roll-out, describing it as a “secret process with no transparent checks and balances”.


Ms Doyle said she had spoken to multiple business owners that were fearful of recrimination for speaking out about the relief fund because they were relying on success in the open round.

“This is public money meant to help communities recover from the most devastating bushfire season in living memory,” she said, adding that further examination by the parliamentary inquiry was “essential”.

Leader of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Robert Borsak, who is also on the committee, said he would support the expansion of the inquiry.

It will resume on Monday to examine the administration of arts and cultural grants and is expected to confirm two additional hearings to explore the bushfire relief fund.

Mr Barilaro will face the inquiry on February 8, after he accepted its offer to appear as a witness despite Premier Gladys Berejiklian refusing.

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NRL rules out slush fund to try to keep Warriors’ rugby-bound Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Former NRL boss Dave Smith once declared he would rely on a war chest to “attract and retain marquee players”, and while it was never used, Tuivasa-Sheck is one headline act who would perfectly fit that bill.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo, however, told the Herald on Thursday night while he hoped Tuivasa-Sheck remained in rugby league, there would be no financial incentives from head office to convince him to stay put.

“Firstly we don’t have a slush fund and secondly it’s not a policy that exists,” Abdo said.

“The salary cap is there for a reason, and it’s there to make sure no club gets an unfair advantage.

“I completely agree with you that we want the best athletes playing rugby league, and Roger is a terrific athlete.

“But ultimately any player will make his own decision on what he wants to do, sometimes it’s financially motivated, and other times it isn’t.

“We’d love Roger to play rugby league forever, but at this stage there are no plans for the NRL to create a slush fund … it’s not on our agenda.

“The ARL Commission is always looking at ways they can improve the game and it’s appeal to fans, and if there’s any way we can attract and retain athletes we’ll look at it, but it always has to be fair, and there won’t be exceptions for some athletes and not others.

“Sadly we have to accept we will lose players from time to time.″⁣

Tuivasa-Sheck was unsure last year if he would be able to spend a potential second NRL season living away from his young family because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Warriors gave Tuivasa-Sheck permission to negotiate with rugby clubs in recent months, with News Limited reporting on Thursday night he will finish up at the end of 2021 NRL season before making the leap, most likely to the Auckland Blues.

The 27-year-old proved an inspiration to rival fans last season as he continued to aim up for the Warriors who re-located to the Central Coast.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is keen to pursue his 2023 World Cup dream with the All Blacks.Credit:Getty Images

They will finish up in Tamworth next week before returning to the Central Coast where Tuivasa-Sheck is expected to be joined by his family.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George and Tuivasa-Sheck’s manager Bruce Sharrock could not be reached for comment on Thursday night. New Zealand coach Nathan Brown will now only get the one season working with his best and most popular player.

“It’s definitely a lot easier this time around because it’s planned,” Tuivasa-Sheck told the Warriors’ website this month about life on the road.

“That’s probably the best part, there’s a bit more plan to it.

“My family will be here in February when we make our second move into our next place.″⁣

Tuivasa-Sheck won the Dally M in 2018, which featured an inspirastional haka performance from proud Kiwis Issac Luke and Jazz Tevaga.

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‘Who is going to fund this white elephant?’

Is it an unrealistic dream to want trains back on our tracks?

Or should we get on with building the rail trail?

A new company, Northern Rivers Rail Ltd, has been established in an effort to get the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line reopened for trains.

They will host their first public meeting this week.

But the issue of what our rail corridor should be used for continues to divide our community.

On The Northern Star‘s Facebook page, readers were vocal with their opinions.

On the pro-train side, Doug Moses wrote: “I remember travelling from Murwillumbah on that train back in 1958. Train was ancient, carriage letting rain in everywhere, but the country scenery was beautiful, making it a thoroughly enjoyable journey. Wish the proposal well.”

But Peter Hatfield replied: “There is no proposal. It is just a delaying tactic to try and stop the rail trail. They have nothing to offer the community except a continuation of the disused corridor.”

Sam Lees said a long distance walking/cycling track was a better and cheaper option, and wrote: “It will bring visitors but have less ongoing need for capital.”

It seems the cost of bringing trains back and keeping them on the tracks long term was the key issue fuelling people’s doubts.

Peter French: “I hope the company who is behind this proposal has a lot of money, because it’s going to take a hell of a lot to rebuild that.”

Geoff Bensley: “Gympie Shire has a train that runs 22km with a return fare of $62. It cost $17.5 million to get the 22km line and locomotive back into a running state after only being off the track for six years. Dreams are good but without hundreds of millions of dollars this venture will be just that.”

Nev Buckley: “Who is going to fund this white elephant? It closed for a good reason, move on.”

Wayne Stark: “I would love to see the detailed business plan for this with full financials.”

Heidi Louise: “The cost of catching a train nowadays is what will ultimately kill it off again once it starts back up. Ongoing maintenance and wages wouldn’t be covered by the fares.”

But other locals embraced the idea of bringing trains back.

Hugh Hyland said the potential on the Northern Rivers was “huge”.

“This railway line must be kept, and opened,” he wrote.

“Also note the steel sleepers, which I expect have many more years life. Get the economics right and reopening the line is a no-brainer.”

Rebekah Fletcher: “Awesome news. Such a beautiful train ride.”

Trevor Chapple: “The financial gain for small cottage industries along the track and less traffic all round would be great for the whole region.”

Sara Ducat: “Trains are a strategic move. Also, trains just make a lot more sense economically. They should never have been stopped.”

And if the cost is the biggest concern, Troy Okeefe had an answer for that.

He thought it would be good to get all the Hollywood stars who had moved to the North Coast to pay for it.

“Hemsworth, Efron, Damon, the list goes on. They could use it as a party train,” he said.

Now that’s an idea … all aboard!

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Kenya taps Sh1.3bn US fund for workers’ rights ahead of new trade deal


Kenya taps Sh1.3bn US fund for workers’ rights ahead of new trade deal

Textile workers at Altex EPZ Textile Manufacturing in Athi River. FILE PHOTO | NMG



  • Kenya is set to benefit from a Sh1.29 billion US government fund meant to improve compliance with international labour standards in key export sectors ahead of a new trade deal with Washington.
  • The US Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) said Kenya is among three African countries picked for the grant alongside the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one other unnamed nation.
  • The move comes as Kenya stepped up talks for a new trade deal with Washington before the expiry of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Kenya is set to benefit from a Sh1.29 billion US government fund meant to improve compliance with international labour standards in key export sectors ahead of a new trade deal with Washington.

The US Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) said Kenya is among three African countries picked for the grant alongside the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one other unnamed nation.

“Made available through the Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), the grant of $11.7 million (Sh1.29 billion) will support efforts to improve compliance with relevant international labour standards and acceptable conditions of work, with an emphasis on promoting occupational safety and health in one or more export-oriented economic sectors, such as the mining and quarrying sector,” the Department said in an update.

“ILAB’s mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers and businesses in the United States and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labour standards and combating international child labour, forced labour and human trafficking.”

The move comes as Kenya stepped up talks for a new trade deal with Washington before the expiry of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas until 2025.

“We appreciate what has been achieved through Agoa, but it is time we moved to much closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday when he bid farewell to outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter at State House, Nairobi.

Agoa grants 40 African States quota and duty-free access to the US market of more than 6,000 product lines. Statistics showed that the two-way goods trade between these nations totalled Sh106 billion in 2019, up 4.9 per cent from 2018.

The grant by ILAB comes as boost for the two nations eyeing enhanced trade between themselves but in an environment where there is more focus on compliance with global human rights and labour standards.

Employee welfare is a sensitive matter in the US, with businesses required to ensure their operations and dealings both at home and abroad complied with international labour standards. The US foreign policy, for example, typically portrays forced labour as a violation of international human rights standards that must be stamped out.

All new-generation free-trade agreements (FTAs) around the world include a sustainable-development clause between the parties promoting, among other things, a set of labour standards as well as conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

For instance, most of the United States’ and European Union’s FTAs contain provisions to protect the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association and forbid discrimination at the place of work.

A recent report by ILAB raised a concern over child labour in Kenya—an indication that the matter would get prominence in the employee welfare grant.

“Children in Kenya engage in the worst forms of child labour, including in domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children also engage in child labuor in agriculture,” the bureau said, pointing out that Kenya has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

Kenyans last October witnessed the significance of human rights practices in international trade when multiple European supermarket chains suspended supply orders from the Murang’a-based agricultural firm Kakuzi, citing human rights abuse claims.

The fallout from the human rights abuse claims against Kakuzi saw the withdrawal of supply contracts by UK’s Sainsbury’s, Germany’s discount grocer Lidl and Britain’s largest supermarket Tesco.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed Kakuzi has been sued in the UK over alleged human rights abuses on its Kenyan plantations—placing it at risk of fines and compensation to the victims if found guilty.

Through its Kent-based parent Camellia Plc, the company has been sued over allegations of assault and sexual misconduct allegedly conducted by employees. The UK-listed company Camellia owns 50.7 per cent of Kakuzi.

Law firm Leigh Day said that 79 Kenyans had filed a legal claim in the High Court in London against Camellia for alleged human rights abuses by security guards employed by Kakuzi, its Kenyan subsidiary.

Camellia employs 78,000 people worldwide and says it is the largest avocado producer in Kenya, which according to the International Trade Centre is Africa’s biggest avocado exporter.

The accusations, dating from 2009 to January this year, include rapes, attacks on local villagers and a man being beaten to death, Leigh Day said.

Kakuzi has, however, rejected the claims made by Leigh Day, saying it did not “condone any criminal activities or behaviour by any of its employees”.

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