Politics and policy
Beer prices to change every three months, starting July
Posted Sunday, June 17 2012 at 16:28
Beer and wine consumers are set to feel the heat of new regulations that will see prices of alcoholic drinks change every three months, as the Treasury seeks to boost the national tax kitty with a bigger cash contribution from merry makers.
Finance minister Njeru Githae on Thursday published a legal notice that will make excise taxes on beer and alcohol payable on retail prices, as opposed to previously when the levies were charged on ex-factory prices.
Mr Githae inserted the detail in a separate gazette notice that was published and tabled in Parliament on the same day, unlike in the past when finance ministers announced increases in taxes on alcoholic products in their main budget speech.
“The commissioner shall determine and publish in the gazette the retail selling price for (beer and wines) on a quarterly basis,” read part of the gazette notice. “Retail selling price means the average selling price, determined in accordance with these regulations, for the purposes of levying ad valorem excise duty,” added the new law which came into force on Friday.
Tax experts and beer manufacturer Keroche Breweries said the new rules are set to trigger a sharp increase in prices, dampening the spirits of consumers who assumed they had escaped the annual “sin tax” that the Treasury habitually loads onto alcohol drinkers.
The quarterly adjustment of retail prices also puts both consumers and manufacturers in an uncertain position with the possibility of up to four price changes in a year.
“The new (tax) model will work like the Value Added Tax and this will inevitably mean that consumers will have to pay more,” said the Keroche Breweries Managing Director Tabitha Karanja, adding that beer manufacturers will now increase their ex-factory prices, starting a chain reaction that will cascade to the consumers.
“Furthermore, if a bar in downtown Nairobi sells its beer at Sh120 per bottle but the retail price is later set at Sh150, the owners will have to adjust their prices upwards,” she added.
Beer consumers will also have to yield to a more robust National Agency for Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada), whose budgetary allocation was increased by Sh1 billion to finance implementation of the Mututho Laws.
The Treasury had already signalled an intention to raise taxes on beer when it factored in a 20 per cent growth in excise tax revenue estimates for the financial year 2012/13.
According to the Treasury projections, taxes on beer are set to increase by Sh14 billion to Sh85 billion in the coming financial year.
Domestic excise duty comprises mainly taxes on alcohol, tobacco, soft drinks and bottled water and plastics, with the first two accounting for over 90 per cent of total collections.
Excise taxes on beer contribute over half of all the entire domestic excise taxes.
Mr Githae had actually already set the stage for the new taxation regime in the Finance Act 2012, but implementation of the changes failed to take off as regulations describing retail selling price (RSP) had not been set.