Keroche Set To Laying Off 400 Workers

Troubled local brewer, Keroche Breweries, is set to lay off 400 workers as it battles its recent closure by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over tax arrears.

Last Tuesday, Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja said the company was shut down on May 15 after defaulting on an earlier agreed plan to repay tax arrears totaling to Ksh.30 million.

Karanja, through a series of tweets on Monday morning, revealed that Keroche will send home 400 workers on June 20, owing to the closure.

“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,” she wrote.

“The company is at the verge of laying off over 400 employees due to the illegal, punitive and draconian actions by the KRA.”

She said the company is staring at tanks full of beer which will go to waste as they have been forced to drain them away, further calling out several government agencies for what she described as indifference towards the company’s woes.  

“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;

“Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services, Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, The National Treasury and Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government,” wrote the businesswoman.

Ms. Karanja now wants the Labour ministry to be concerned and interrogate the matter in order to safeguard the welfare of the employees.

She added: “​​This is a national security issue that the ministry (of Interior) MUST be concerned about, yet the casual manner in which job losses are induced by reckless application of government policy, suggests that the gravity of the problem is yet to get home to the ministry.”

Karanja, who is seeking the Nakuru senatorial bid in the August polls had earlier stated that the closure is politically-motivated.

She attributes her woes to the move to join politics through the Deputy President William Ruto-led UDA party.

Last week, she announced that the taxman had 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.

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.

She further 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 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 then.

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