Keroche Breweries Limited has announced that it will lay off at least 400 employees over the standoff with the Kenya Revenue Authority over tax dues.
Keroche was shut down in May over tax arrears amounting to over Ksh322 million, which the taxman says the company has defaulted on. As a result, Keroche CEO says that at least 400 workers will be rendered jobless and alcohol worth over Ksh500 million will go to waste.
“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,” Karanja said.
“I was also at pains as I looked at all the beer in the tanks that we shall be forced to drain to waste and wondered why and how the relevant ministries remain so indifferent to the dire consequences of the current closure of the company’s factory.”
Karanja dispelled claims by KRA that the company is non-compliant on tax matters, saying that the company was hit by Covid-19 pandemic going from a high of Ksh500 million per month to a low of Ksh50 million per month by the time of closure.
“I wish to dispel the narrative that has been created by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) that Keroche Breweries Ltd is a non-compliant taxpayer who perpetually defaults on their tax obligations. The truth of the matter is that there have been tax disputes dating back to 2002 and the company in exercising its constitutional right to fair taxation should not be blacklisted,” Karanja said.
“It is worth noting that Keroche Breweries earned monthly revenues of between Ksh400 million and 500 million pre-Covid-19. After the prolonged closure, the revenues dropped to below Ksh50 million. During the two years of Covid-19 pandemic, the company ensured that the livelihood of its employees was sustained which really strained its resources. The post-Covid effects and the on and off closures of the company’s factory by KRA have left the company a shadow of the pre-Covid establishment.”
Karanja asked the relevant government authorities to cushion industries facing difficulties, especially local industries which have no parent companies in other jurisdictions to cushion them, like the multinationals.
“It is my humble request that all the relevant authorities be requested to rise to the occasion in order 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 said.
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