KRA shuts down Keroche Breweries again over tax row

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja flanked by her staff during a presser on March 4, 2022. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The woes bedevilling Keroche Breweries have deepened after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) shut down its Naivasha-based factory again.

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

The authority has gone ahead to issue agency notices to several banks against lending the brewer fully paralysing the operations of the company.

But the company has accused the KRA of a political witch-hunt noting that they signed the agreement through duress and the harsh economic times had affected their operations.

According to the company CEO Tabitha Karanja, efforts by the company to seek more time to pay the arrears had hit the wall.

Addressing the press at the factory on Tuesday, 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.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the brewery was closed for two years because of the measures enforced to contain the spread of Covid-19 and we incurred tax arrears of Sh322 million,” she said.

Karanja attributed her woes to the move to join politics through UDA adding that this would not stop her intentions to vie for the senatorial seat in Nakuru.

“KRA is under tremendous pressure to place Keroche Breweries under existential jeopardy in order to retaliate against me for my interest in offering political leadership in Nakuru,” she said.

She questioned the move by KRA to issue agency notice to several banks noting that this had shut down all their operations and plans to get financial support.

“KRA has issued agency notices to the company’s bankers and instead of correctly notifying the banks of the Sh30m we owe, it gave a wrong figure of Sh558.7 million,” she said.

Karanja appealed to KRA to give the company a moratorium on the enforcement action that shut down their operations and a review of the unsustainable payment plan.

“I plead with the KRA to afford us an opportunity to regain our footing as a manufacturer, employer and a local entity in order to sustainably meet all our obligations,” she said.

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