Bar and liquor traders have criticised Treasury CS Ukur Yatani’s proposal to slap 20 per cent tax on a low cost beer - Senator Keg.
Addressing journalists in Narok, Bars, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association national vice chair Charles Nasieku said the tax would make the beer too expensive for low-end consumers and drive them to illicit brews.
“We want CS Yatani to come clean on this matter because we are afraid that the proposed regulations may be published without adequate understanding of Senator Keg’s demand,” said Nasieku.
According to statistics from the East African Breweries, illicit brews account for 490 million litres (44 per cent) of the total alcohol industry in Kenya.
The brewer says the new tax would translate to an annual decline in KBL’s demand for sorghum grain by 13,674 tonnes.
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The traders also want the government to allow bars and clubs to reopen, albeit partially, pledging to abide by government regulations to stem the spread of Covid-19 in their business premises.
“We are appealing to the government to consider allowing bars to sell takeaways. We have brands such as wines/spirits, canned beer that can be sold on takeaway basis,” said Nasieku.
The bar operators also expressed fear that lack of clear reopening plan exposed them to competition from the black market.
“Protocols published by the Industrialisation ministry on reopening the economy failed to include bar operations,” said Narok Bar Owners Association Chair Joseph Kamau.
In Nakuru, the Bars, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association says 14,000 jobs have been lost due to the continued closure of their businesses.
According to the association, traders in the sector were already counting losses running into millions of shillings due to the closure.
The association's CEO Boniface Gachoka appealed to the government to allow bars to partially reopen to save jobs and salvage stock worth millions of shillings lying in stores.
Danson Wanyoike, a member of the association, protested that the cost of Covid-19 tests was prohibitive and inaccessible for many bar workers.