As President William Ruto’s administration is undoing decisions made by the previous administration, at least 26 alcohol manufacturing companies that had been shut down under former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s watch have reportedly resumed operations.
According to reports, 26 businesses, including the Thika-based Africa Spirits Ltd owned by entrepreneur Humphrey Kariuki, the Mount Kenya Breweries Ltd, the Rift Valley Brewing Company, and the Wananchi Breweries Ltd, which had been shut down due to a variety of problems, but primarily tax disagreements with the KRA, have reopened.
Vinepack Ltd., Big Five Breweries Ltd., Elle Kenya Ltd., Lumat Company Ltd., and Tona Brewing Ltd., all situated in Thika, are other factories. This occurs while President William Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, continue to level harsh criticism at the previous administration, charging it with criminalising business.
The Deputy President criticised KRA for shutting down firms and sending agency notices to companies it had concerns with during a Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) event last week, hinting that President Ruto’s administration would not support such actions.
“Because it is absurd, the topic of closing factories because taxpayers are suffering is no longer relevant. the delivery of tax notices and agency notices after account closure. Where will taxes be collected the next year if a person cannot conduct business because an account has been closed for six months? Those workers lose their jobs if a factory is closed, even when they were paying PAYE. Where are you going to acquire the money?” posed Gachagua
The taxman, according to the Deputy President, was to blame for closing the Africa Spirits Ltd. factory in Thika, which cost the government Ksh1.8 billion in income.
“That factory was paying monthly taxes of roughly Sh50 million. Humphrey Kariuki, a very industrious Kenyan and an honourable man who has worked hard his entire life, was caught, shut down, and held captive for four days with common criminals. As a result, KRA lost Sh50 million each month. We have lost a massive Ksh1.8 billion over the past three years. It was incompetence, and the Ruto government will never allow something like that to occur,” said Gachagua
In contrast to KRA’s confrontational approach, which increased revenues by generating fear in businesses, the new administration is projecting an image of one ready to pamper taxpayers into paying their fair amount.
“Taxpayers are your dairy cow. For a cow to produce milk, you have to be very nice to the cow. We have told KRA to look after taxpayers the way you look after a good dairy cow to continue producing milk,” Mr Gachagua stated.
The reopening of the alcohol producers, who had been shut down owing to tax disputes and other standards-related violations, has not been acknowledged or rejected by KRA, nor have the circumstances surrounding their reopening been made clear.
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