60 per cent water, juice in Kenya is counterfeit - KRA

Water bottles are placed on tables for guests during the diaspora conference at the KICC Dec 13 2011.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE
Water bottles are placed on tables for guests during the diaspora conference at the KICC Dec 13 2011.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

More of the water and juice on the Kenyan market is counterfeit, KRA has said, noting the loss of billions of shillings in revenue.

Commissioner general John Njiraini said they are keen on taming the sector to ensure customers receive quality products and taxes are paid.

“The water and juice sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the country but statistics indicate over 60 per cent of the products are illicit,” he said.

In an address in Naivasha at the weekend, Njiraini announced plans to introduce the excise stamps management programme to the sector.

He noted that the programme is aimed at helping customers identify genuine products and those that have paid taxes.

It previously primarily targeted wines and spirits, he said, adding beer had been added to the products of interest and was to be followed by water, juice and soda.

Njiraini said that under the programme, the taxman had met its excise tax collection target and that tax returns had increased by 30 per cent to 40 per cent.

“Under the programme meant to fight illicit products we have seen some companies' tax returns rise five-fold. This is the way to go,” he said.

He noted that the "successful" programme has helped address the issue of counterfeit products in the tobacco sector.

"We tried this system in the tobacco industry and it has worked, with counterfeits reducing from 25 to five per cent," he said.

Njiraini earlier toured Keroche Breweries with senior officers of the Kenya Revenue Authority to review the progress of the new excise programme.

Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja welcomed the new programme saying it has seen their sales rise.

Karanja said consumers are now enlightened and empowered as they can buy legitimate products.

But she expressed concern over the high number of counterfeit alcohol products in the market

"Though a lot has been done to deal with counterfeit drinks, we urge KRA to do more as 50 per cent of imports are fake," she said.