Azimio la Umoja Presidential candidate Raila Odinga on Friday, June 17 called for Keroche Breweries to be allowed to resume operations amid its multi-million shilling tax battle with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
While addressing a gathering in Thika, Odinga stated that the government was full of bureaucrats who do not understand how business works. He called for an end to punitive taxation measures as he warned that shutting down operations not only impacted investors but employees as well.
“Do not kíll the goose that lays the golden eggs,” he asserted.
Raila stated that Keroche, Kenya’s biggest homegrown manufacturer of a*******c beverages, should be allowed to continue operations to enable the company to pay off taxes. He maintained that if elected, his administration would end punitive taxation measures and instead focusing on expanding the tax base.
“Let Keroche go…If they can’t pay today let them pay tomorrow. Spread it out. These are Kenyans, even if they have your debt, where will they run away to?”
“If they can’t pay today help them to stay in business so that they can pay you,” Odinga maintained.
READ ALSO>>KRA Shuts Down Keroche Yet Again
Keroche founder Tabitha Karanja revealed at a press conference this week that the company’s Naivasha plant was shut down by KRA officials for the second time this year in May. Keroche had defaulted on a payment plan agreed on by the parties in March after a protracted, publicized face-off.
The payment plan was supposed to have Keroche pay Ksh957 million over 24 months, charged from January 2022. The latest closure saw KRA demand a delayed Ksh322 million payment.
Karanja is vying for the Nakuru Senatorial seat on a UDA ticket. UDA is led by Odinga’s main opponent in the August polls, DP William Ruto.
Karanja had linked Keroche’s woes to her political bid. She described the payment plan sealed in March as unsustainable and claimed that they were under ‘unbearable pressure at the time they agreed to it.
She further warned that the continued closure could drive Keroche’s 400+ employees and their dependants into poverty. Karanja requested a moratorium to allow the firm to get back on its feet.
“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.
“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,” she added.