The woes bedevilling Keroche Breweries Limited have deepened after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) closed the Naivasha-based factory over tax arrears.
Addressing the media on Tuesday at the factory, Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja said the company was shut down on May 15, 2022, after defaulting on an earlier agreed plan to repay tax arrears totalling Ksh.30 million.
Karanja however maintains that KRA’s move to shutdown Keroche breweries is politically motivated, adding that KRA has gone ahead to issue agency notices to several banks against lending the brewer, fully paralyzing the operations of the company.
“The KRA measures of issuing the agency notices to all the banks in Kenya, have induced a harsh investment climate. Some banks with whom we were arranging financing are finding it difficult because frequent closures are raising risk levels,” said Karanja.
She noted that Keroche signed the tax repayment agreement through duress, adding that harsh economic times had affected their operations.
She notes that efforts by the company to seek more time to pay the arrears had hit the wall.
Karanja added that over 400 workers faced the sack while beer worth over Ksh.350 million could go to waste.
Flanked by her workers, she accused KRA of behaving in a manner that was scandalously oblivious of the need for business resilience to overcome a combination of challenges.
She said during the Covid-19 pandemic, the brewery was closed for two years because of the measures enforced to contain the spread of Covid-19, causing the company to incur tax arrears of Ksh.322 million.
Karanja attributed her woes to the move to join politics through the Deputy President William Ruto-led UDA party, adding that this would not stop her intentions to vie for the senatorial seat in Nakuru.
According to her, KRA is under tremendous pressure to place Keroche Breweries under existential jeopardy in order to retaliate against her for her interest in offering political leadership in Nakuru.
“More particularly, my perfectly legitimate decision to contest the senate election under the United Democratic Alliance is the immediate source of the company’s dire predicament. I have called various offices for intervention, and it has been made clear to me that I can only safely exercise my political and democratic rights under the Azimio la umoja coalition and that as matters stand, the adverse action will be sustained,” she said.
She questioned why KRA issued agency notices to the company’s bankers and instead of correctly notifying the banks of the Ksh.30 million they owe, it gave a wrong figure of Ksh.558 million.
Karanja is appealing 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 you, in the name of all the hundreds of innocent Kenyans whose livelihoods depend, directly and indirectly on this brewery, to allow us to reopen and resume full operations in order to keep them working and to enable us meet our obligations to them and to the KRA,” she said.