KRA warns banks against lending to Keroche Breweries

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja addressing the press in Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has clipped Keroche Breweries’ wings after warning 36 banks against lending the company.

This comes a couple of weeks after the tax collector shut down operations of the Naivasha-based breweries over Sh300 million tax arrears.

Following the move, over 250 workers face the axe while liquor worth over Sh500 million in the tanks risks going to waste as woes bedevilling the company deepened.

The latest move by KRA could see the brewery join a list of companies that have closed down under the Jubilee government. Keroche Chief Executive Officer Tabitha Karanja has petitioned the president to intervene as efforts to meet the KRA commissioner general had hit a brick wall.

Addressing the press in Naivasha, Ms Karanja attributed the current financial crisis to Covid-19, which saw the company’s operations paralysed at the height of the pandemic.

Flanked by workers, Karanja vowed to soldier on, noting that at the height of its operations, the company was remitting over Sh200 million to the Exchequer every month.

“We are sure that this issue can be sorted amicably as we are ready to pay the required taxes if KRA opens our brewery,” she said.

She noted that the factory had been closed due to Sh322 million tax arrears which had accrued from February 2021.

“However in December 2021, KRA closed the factory and further issued agency notices to 36 banks and we could not produce or access any finances to assist in settling the arrears,” she said.

She added that efforts to renegotiate with the KRA Commissioner-Domestic Taxes Department had failed. Karanja said the authority had closed down the factory with over two million litres of beer worth Sh512 million in their tanks, raising fears that the liquor could go to waste.

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja. [File, Standard]

“This has drained all our resources and unfortunately if nothing is done in the next seven days, we will be forced to drain out all the beer and send home over 250 direct employees,” she said.

In her appeal to the president, Karanja is requesting that the factory be reopened and KRA to give them a grace period of 12 months to pay the arrears.

“Keroche is capable of remitting over Sh21 billion every year in tax and a positive consideration of this appeal will be a win for the company and KRA,” she said.

Karanja, who is seeking the Nakuru senator seat, challenged Parliament to formulate laws that will in future protect and cushion local enterprises.

“The laws should mandate the Treasury CS to give waivers or moratoriums to investors during such difficult times brought about by a global pandemic,” she said.