Over 400 Keroche Breweries staff risk being layed off, Tabitha Karanja says

Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja inspects beer production at the Naivasha brewery. [File, Standard]

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja says the brewer risks laying off over 400 workers if it remains closed.

This comes about a week after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) shut down its Naivasha-based factory again.

The tax collector accused the company of defaulting on an earlier agreed plan to repay tax arrears totalling Sh300 million.

In a thread of tweets on Monday morning, Karanja called on the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services, Ministry of Industrialisation and the National Treasury to intervene in the tax dispute that has been going on for years.

“I was thinking aloud on Sunday afternoon and pondering how I will relay the painful message to our employees on Monday that we will be laying them off as a result of KRA's closure,” one of the Nakuru senatorial aspirant's tweets read in part.

“I was also at pains as I looked at all the beer in the tanks that we shall be forced to drain to waste and wondered why and how the following relevant ministries remain so indifferent to the dire consequences of the current closure of the company’s factory,” he said.

While calling on the three ministries' intervention, the Keroche boss has argued that if the harsh measures executed by KRA are not looked into, the effects might trickle down to Kenyans, who depend on it for a living either directly or indirectly.

The company boss has also decried the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it affected the business’ normal operations.

She is also seeking an audience with the KRA boss.

“Finally we would be happy to have an audience with the Commissioner-General of KRA,”  she wrote.

Aside from shutting down the company last week, the authority has issued agency notices to several banks against lending the brewer, fully paralysing the operations of the company.

While addressing the press on the closure last week, she said over 400 workers faced the sack while beer worth over Sh350 million could go to waste.

“KRA’s draconian measures against Keroche Breweries constitute a hostile exception to well-established government policies of investment promotion, job creation and support for value addition,” she said.

Flanked by her workers, she said that KRA behaved in a manner that was scandalously oblivious of the need for business resilience to overcome a combination of challenges.

Last year, KRA closed the plant for weeks which reopened after the brewery and the tax authority agreed on a payment plan.

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