Pub owners hit out at Yatani over taxes, express disappointment on extended closure order

Pub owners hit out at Yatani over taxes, express disappointment over extended closure order

In Summary

• The association said allowing bars and restaurants to resume business will enable the sector to start the journey of recovery after six bad months, during which operators have lost, and continue to lose, billions of shillings.

•"Livelihoods have been lost as thousands of employees were rendered jobless. Bars and restaurants constitute many of the Small and Medium Enterprises that have suspended work, some of whom we are aware may never rise out of the ashes again.

Pubs, Entertainment,Restaurant and Restaurants Association Nairobi Chapter chairman Frank Mbogo addresses journalists at Club Sappe in Nairobi on August 31, 2020 on the directive by the President in his address last week that the alcohol beverage sector should work with the Ministry of Health to develop protocols for self-regulation to enable the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants.
Pubs, Entertainment,Restaurant and Restaurants Association Nairobi Chapter chairman Frank Mbogo addresses journalists at Club Sappe in Nairobi on August 31, 2020 on the directive by the President in his address last week that the alcohol beverage sector should work with the Ministry of Health to develop protocols for self-regulation to enable the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants.
Image: MOSES MWANGI

The Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association has expressed its disappointment at President Uhuru Kenyatta's decision not to allow resumption of operations in the alcohol business.

"We are glad that there is some light at the end of the tunnel and we have been set a challenge that we are confident we’ll meet. We therefore appreciate the President’s directive that we work with other stakeholders to come up with protocols to ensure a self-regulation mechanism that will work," the association said on Monday.

It further added that it is confident that the President’s directive sets the stage for bars and restaurants to reopen.

The association further added that allowing bars and restaurants to resume business will enable the sector to start the journey of recovery after six bad months, during which operators have lost, and continue to lose, billions of shillings.

"Livelihoods have been lost as thousands of employees were rendered jobless. Bars and restaurants constitute many of the Small and Medium Enterprises that have suspended work, some of whom we are aware may never rise out of the ashes again.

Now, more than ever, we appeal to our members to abide by the guidelines set by the Government and to pass on their proposals on self-regulation, the association explained, PERA said.

It has further stated that is has been working to help develop protocols to enable bars and restaurants to resume operations safely and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"We request that our members who have complied with all the Ministry of Health protocols and have the required permits should in the meantime be allowed to sell alcohol with food. We share the concerns of the society over the increased consumption of illicit alcohol during this period."

The association added that this phenomenon is not unique to Kenya, but there is reason to worry because it could be harder to treat those who suffer the worst effects of consuming alcohol of suspicious origin.

"Throughout the alcoholic beverages industry, the trend has been toward a phenomenon called down-trading, where customers adjust their spending to the size of their wallets, and this unfortunately results in drinkers who take the affordable but safe alcohol resorting to illicit drinks," it said.

It further added that the Ukur Yatani-led National Treasury continues to treat the alcohol beverage industry as the "default option whenever there is a need to increase revenue collection", and there are still proposals to increase the tax collected from alcoholic beverages.

"The latest proposal has come from the Kenya Revenue Authority, which seeks to increase Excise Duty regardless of the crippling circumstances in which we have been operating. PERAK is therefore worried that even with the reopening, the industry will not recover given the increase in prices that is likely to be the result of an increase in Excise Duty as proposed by the KRA," PERA said.

PERA  added, "Our eyes remain focused on the challenge ahead, though, and over the past week, work has been ongoing in model outlets to demonstrate that the proposed measures can be implemented and work and life can continue.

"We invite you to help document the transformation of the outlets and help spread the message to all stakeholders that it is their responsibility to live and celebrate life safely."

Last week, the President said restaurant operation hours have been extended by an hour and will now close by 8pm.

The Head of State also said the closure of bars and night clubs shall continue for a further next 30 days.

"Ban on alcohol sale by licensed hotels with residents is hereby lifted," he said.

Previously, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe had said the opening of restaurants is not a permit for bars to sell alcohol.