Keroche Breweries founder Tabitha Karanja has sounded an alarm after the firm’s operations at their Naivasha manufacturing plant were shut down yet again.
After a long-running, publicized saga, KRA and Keroche struck a deal in March 2022 that allowed the firm to resume operations. The deal announced by KRA was centred on a new payment plan that would see Keroche pay Ksh957 million over 24 months.
Addressing journalists in Naivasha on Tuesday, June 14, Karanja revealed that KRA enforcement officers had shut down the plant yet again in May. She described the payment plan they agreed to as unsustainable and claimed that they were under ‘unbearable pressure’ at the time the deal was struck.
She pleaded with the taxman for the operations at Keroche to be allowed to resume, warning of the potential job losses and the impact on livelihoods. The company has over 400 employees.
Karanja further requested for a moratorium on the Ksh322 million payment being demanded by KRA to allow the firm to find its footing.
“I still plead with the KRA to afford us an opportunity to get back on our feet and regain our footing as a manufacturer, employer and local indigenous business entity in order to sustainably meet all our obligations. I specifically request once more to be given a moratorium on the enforcement action that shut down our operations, and on the unsustainable payment plan that we agreed to under unbearable pressure,” Karanja asserted.
Expounding on the consequences, Karanja who is the UDA Senatorial candidate in Nakuru cautioned that the continued closure could drive families into poverty.
“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 to meet our obligations to them and to the KRA.”
“If we do not do this, hundreds of families will be reduced to poverty, suffering and begging in these extremely difficult economic times,” Karanja maintained.
In March, Karanja had blamed regular disruptions by KRA for their inability to honor a previous payment plan. KRA has been demanding Ksh22 Billion in unpaid taxes in the protracted battle that has played out over a decade.
Keroche founder Tabitha Karanja had also ruled out a potential stake sale by Keroche to help sort out the tax problems. She asserted that she wanted the 25-year old firm, Kenya’s second-largest alcohol manufacturer after Diageo-owned EABL, to survive the current challenges.