Ms Karanja who was once a close associate of ODM leader Raila Odinga claims to have appealed with the KRA for more time to clear the Ksh.323m in tax arrears
M/S Tabitha Karanja the CEO of Naivasha-based Keroche Brewery has petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and open the factory which was shut down last week by officers from KRA over tax arrears.
Ms Karanja who was once a close associate of ODM leader Raila Odinga claims to have appealed with the KRA for more time to clear the Ksh.323m in tax arrears. She said the shutdown would deny livelihood to hundreds of employees, distributors, and bar owners.
If KRA closes down the factory for long, Karanja said; “We will be forced to drain down all the beer and lay off 750 direct employees”
The then Prime Minister Raila Odinga launched the second phase of the factory in 2011, giving their competitor Kenya Breweries a run for their money in beer production. KBL has constantly rebranded and intensified commercial advertisement in the battle to secure the market. If KRA closes down the factory for long, Karanja said; “We will be forced to drain all the beer from the storage tanks and lay off 750 employees.”
Ms Karanja had asked the taxman for a grace period to clear the tax obligation, saying the Covid-19 pandemic had adversely affected the brewers’ revenue flows. She is urging President Kenyatta to protect local investors who have created jobs for thousands of wananchi. She said efforts to get an audience with the KRA commissioner General had hit a snag.
“We are sure that this issue can be sorted out amicably as we are ready to pay the required taxes if KRA opens up our brewery,” Karanja said. The brewery has been locked in a protracted tax war with KRA forcing the company to close down on several occasions. Karanja said the company was remitting over Sh200 million to the exchequer each month. She said Sh332 million tax arrears, which are the genesis of the current crisis, had accrued from February 2021 which saw the firm reach a deal with KRA on how to resettle it.
“However in December 2021, KRA closed the factory and further issued agency notices to 36 banks, we could not produce or access any finances to assist in settling the arrears,” Karanja said. “Efforts to renegotiate a deal with the KRA Commissioner-Domestic Taxes Department and get revenue stamps had been unsuccessful.”
Karanja revealed that the authority had closed down the factory with over two million litres of beer worth Sh512 million still in tanks. She said the liquor would go to waste in seven days. “This has drained all our resources and unfortunately if nothing is done in the next seven days, we will be forced to drain all the beer and lay off over 750 direct employees,” she said.
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