• KRA is demanding Sh300 million from Keroche in tax dispute that dates back to 2002
•Last week, KRA shut down the brewery saying it had reneged on a payment plan
Keroche Breweries wants a six-month break before it can start repaying the Sh300 million tax arrears it owes Kenya Revenue Authority.
The company attributed its financial troubles to the Covid-19 pandemic, frequent closure by KRA and punitive laws by the tax authority.
This comes as the Naivasha based brewer said it is contemplating sending the 0ver 400 workers on unpaid leave due to the current row that has paralysed its operations.
“The company is at the verge of laying off over 400 employees due to the illegal, punitive and draconian actions by KRA and the Ministry of labour should move in and protect the workers,” said Keroche chief executive Tabitha Karanja.
Last week, KRA shut down the brewery saying it had reneged on a payment deal plan.
The authority went ahead and issued agency notices to several banks against lending the brewer, fully paralysing its operations.
Karanja blamed the current impasse on draconian laws imposed by KRA and lack of state support.
She said that the company had requested for a moratorium of six months before commencing payments because of post-Covid-19.
“The company still requests for the moratorium in order to have a head start and for reorganisation of finances for its operations and for payment of taxes going forward,” she said.
Karanja denied claims by KRA that the brewer was a non-compliant taxpayer entity that perpetually defaulted on its tax obligations.
“The truth of the matter is that there have been tax disputes dating back to 2002 and the company exercising its constitutional right to fair taxation should not be blacklisted,” she said.
Karanja called on the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary's intervention in the standoff between KRA and the company.
She said that KRA had exerted its authority with a cavalier approach on collection of taxes, recklessly disregarding the effects of their actions and 'killing the goose that lays the golden egg'.
“I am at pains as I look at all the beer that shall go to drain and wonder why the relevant ministries remain so indifferent to the dire consequences of the closure of the factory,” she said.