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Kenya

Section of MPs urge government to reinstate licenses of leading betting firms

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, who led the team, said banning leading firms would deny the country the much-needed revenue/CFM – JEMIMAH MUENI

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – A group of parliamentarians drawn from ODM and Jubilee parties are now calling upon the government to reinstate betting firms that were banned over claims that they weren’t tax-compliant.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, who led the team, said banning leading firms would deny the country the much-needed revenue.

He said betting firms were among top contributors to the country’s revenue basket last year.

Malala said the government should continue collecting taxes from these companies because the country is losing revenue amounting to billions due to the current standoff.

“We implore the government to look at the interest of the economy and other stakeholders and allow the said companies to operate pending the completion of the investigations. We are in support of this because of what these companies have been doing including sponsorship of sports, culture and arts related activities,” said Malala.

He said it’s appalling that a firm like SportsPesa that was last year recognized and rewarded for paying their taxes on time, this year is being implicated in non-compliance.

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura said banning these firms has directly affected not only the employees, but also beneficiaries of their sponsorship including the disabled and the less fortunate in the society.

“The idea of trying to muzzle companies that are doing well because other interests other than taxation is something we strongly condemn, because some of these firms is not just about sports they are also involved in corporate social responsibility. For instance, SportsPesa has been supplying us people with albinism with sunscreens for quite some time now. They have also been supplying braille materials to the blind. What are we going to do now since they have stopped this sponsorship? posed Mwaura.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino also lamented that leading football clubs which lost sponsorship following the ban are unable to finance their activities, threatening to lead protests if the firms aren’t reinstated.

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Gor Mahia and FC Leopards were among top teams who lost SportsPesa’s sponsorship after their announcement cancelling all local sponsorship due to the impasse with the government over the new betting tax laws.

This move is said to have crippled the Kenyan sports industry which often struggles with financial constraints.

“I want to urge the CS Interior to reconsider his stand on this matter because most of these firms provide employment opportunities especially to youths, failure to reinstate them I will lead Gor Mahia and FC Leopards fans in peaceful demonstrations,” said Owino.

Last month leading betting companies among them SportsPesa and Betin were dealt a blow after telecom firm Safaricom suspended their pay bills following a government directive.

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