BACK AND FORTH

Keroche tax row headed back to court

Brewery wants KRA commissioner- general cited for ignoring court order

In Summary

-          The tax dispute with KRA started back in 2008

-          Keroche is ranked second after EABL in beer production in the country

A plant operator at Naivasha based Keroche Breweries supervises the production of beer before the factory was closed down by KRA last month.
Keroche A plant operator at Naivasha based Keroche Breweries supervises the production of beer before the factory was closed down by KRA last month.
Image: George Murage

The Keroche Brewery tax row is far from over and now the firm is seeking action against the  Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner-General for contempt of court.

It claims the continued closure is political and is costing them millions of shillings monthly.

Last week, Justice Alfred Mabeya directed KRA to open the packaging line, stores and reactivate the Excisable Goods Management System and that the company pays Sh8 million within seven days and subsequently a similar amount every month.

However on Monday, KRA moved court on a certificate of urgency to appeal the order but Justice Mshila Abigail rejected the application and redirected the matter to Justice Mabeya.

Addressing the press in Naivasha, the brewery CEO Tabitha Karanja lashed out at KRA saying it has personalised the matter and ignored a court order.

“It has taken us over 25 years to build this facility using loans but some few individuals want to use KRA to take it back but we shall not allow it,” she said.

An emotional Karanja vowed that she would soldier on, noting that the factory had been closed down for eight months on flimsy grounds.

“We agree that we owe KRA Sh322m in tax arrears and we are ready to pay this when we resume business but our concern is failure by KRA to obey court orders,” she said.

She said that KRA is losing Sh200m from the company every month adding that the company had been forced to send over 400 workers home on unpaid leave due to the closure.

Karanja said the closure had subjected the company to huge losses through the liquor that was ready for packaging, loss of raw materials, accruing interests and loss of market.

The workers representative John Otieno noted that hundreds of families and companies had suffered under the current KRA regime.

He accused the KRA top-brass of setting a bad precedent by ignoring court orders adding that workers were undergoing untold suffering.

“The only way out of this crisis is to allow us to operate so that we can pay the Sh8m as directed by court and for the families to continue earning a living,” he said.