Tabitha Karanja’s reaction as KRA reopens Keroche

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja pledged to comply following an agreement with KRA [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has given embattled beer-maker Keroche Breweries the greenlight to open after the firm entered a Sh957 million debt settlement deal with the taxman.

KRA says Keroche will offset the tax arrears across 24 months, starting January 2022.

The taxman also lifted agency notices it had issued to 36 banks, barring the lenders from engaging the besieged company.

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja and KRA Commissioner-General Githii Mburu held talks last Thursday, March 10, and signed the agreement on Monday, March 14.

“The addendum agreement, which sets the stage for the reopening for production of the Naivasha-based brewery, will see Keroche settle an undisputed tax amount of Sh957 million over a period of 24 months starting from January 2022,” KRA said in a statement dated Wednesday, March 16.

“The signed addendum agreement will also see the KRA lift agency notices it had issued to 36 banks,” said the taxman.

Speaking to The Standard on phone, Tabitha Karanja said she was relieved by the decision, and pledged to comply with the agreement.

“I wish to say thank you to KRA for embracing dialogue, and allowing the authority and Keroche to arrive at an amicable solution to the dispute. I also say thank you to members of the public for speaking up for Keroche as the tax impasse persisted,” she said.

“As Keroche, I’d say a whole quarter of a year – December, January and February – went to waste, consequently affecting our bottom-line. However, with the dispute now resolved, I’m hopeful we’d bounce back to business and keep our side of the bargain,” said Tabitha Karanja.

The Keroche boss said KRA allowed the firm to open on Tuesday night, March 15, and that the 250 direct employees of the company reported to work on Wednesday morning, March 16.

In her appeal to KRA nearly two weeks ago, she warned that Keroche would be forced to pour out two million litres of beer valued at Sh512 million if the plant won’t be allowed to operate within seven days from March 4.

Asked whether the company managed to salvage the beer, Karanja said: “Yes, though at a high maintenance cost. We needed a lot of [electric] power to maintain it in the tanks.”

“I’m glad that my employees’ jobs are now no longer hanging in the balance,” she said.