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JOB LOSSES

Keroche to lay off over 400 staff after closure by KRA

The company was shut down on May 15, 2022

In Summary

•According to Karanja, KRA's move to shutdown Keroche breweries was politically motivated.

•The businesswoman expressed how much the closure had taken a toll on her.

Keroche Breweries CEO, Tabitha Karanja addresses the media on the closure of the company by KRA over unpaid taxes on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Keroche Breweries CEO, Tabitha Karanja addresses the media on the closure of the company by KRA over unpaid taxes on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Image: FILE

Keroche Breweries is mulling laying off more than 400 staff after the company was closed by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

The company was shut down on May 15, 2022, after defaulting on an earlier agreed plan to repay tax arrears of Sh30 million.

According to the company CEO Tabitha Karanja, KRA's move to shutdown Keroche breweries was politically motivated.

On Monday, the businesswoman expressed how the closure had taken a toll on her.

“I was thinking aloud on Sunday afternoon and pondering how I will relay the painful message to our employees on Monday that we will be laying them off as a result of KRA's closure,” she said.

Turning her wrath to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of the National Government, Karanja said the Fred Matiang’i-led docket should be concerned that about 400 direct and thousands of other indirect jobs are on the brink of being lost.

She also questioned whether Treasury CS Ukur Yatani has ever taken the time to understand the standoff between KRA and the company.

Karanja, a Nakuru Senatorial candidate, referred to her company’s closure as a national security issue that the ministry should be concerned about.

“The staff at Keroche will be joining millions of other jobless Kenyans as economic conditions continue to worsen and push more Kenyans to misery,” she added.

Karanja called on the Ministry of Labour, Trade, Interior and the National treasury to play their part in protecting jobs and local businesses from unfair policies by KRA.

“It is my humble request that all the relevant authorities be requested to rise to the occasion to amicably resolve the current issue and further protect and create a conducive and enabling environment even for other industries that may be suffering in silence,” she added.

The Senatorial candidate has requested a sit down with the Kenya Revenue Authority over the closure of her company.

“We would be happy to have an audience with the Commissioner-General of KRA to once again articulate our predicaments as we seek the moratorium,” Karanja said.

Fall of Keroche

The businesswoman further revealed how the company went from making close to Sh500 million per month before the Covid-19 pandemic to below Sh50 million

The decline in revenues, according to her, affected the company's cash flow problems, resulting in defaulting of tax payments to the taxman.

“During the two years of Covid-19, the company ensured that the livelihood of its employees was sustained, which strained its resources. The post-Covid effects and the on/off closures of the company affected cash flow,” Karanja said.

In addition, the businesswoman also asked for more time to pay a Sh500 million tax negotiated in December 2021 and due six months after.

“It's good to note that as KRA applies the Excise duty Act to close down the company, the excise duty arrears amount to only about Sh195 million, of which we defaulted on only one instalment of Sh30 million for April 2022,” Karanja said.

Karanja thanked Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja Presidential candidate Raila Odinga for overlooking their political differences and supporting her.

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