Keroche boss Tabitha Karanja asks Uhuru to intervene in KRA tax row


Keroche Breweries chief executive officer Tabitha Karanja. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Keroche Breweries chief executive Tabitha Karanja has appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene in their row with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over a Sh9.1 billion tax dispute.

The taxman last month closed the brewer after it defaulted on an earlier agreed tax repayment plan in the latest chapter of its long-running battle over unpaid taxes.

“The recent closure by KRA has drained all our resources and unfortunately if nothing is done in the next seven days, we will be forced to drain down all the beer and lay down over 250 direct employees and thousands within our nationwide distribution network,” Ms Karanja said.

She added that they have over two million litres of been in their storage tanks worth Sh512 million which needs Sh30 million monthly to maintain. 

The billionaire now wants President Kenyatta to help reopen the plant as efforts to get an audience with the KRA commissioner-general Githii Mburu has hit a wall.

In their request, the company is asking for a 12-month grace period to resume paying the tax arrears. 

"At this point, they refused to accept further negotiations and the office of the Commissioner-Domestic Taxes Department, advised us that their hands were tied and we should seek support from the office of the Commissioner-General," Ms Karanja said. 

The CEO attributed the current financial crisis to Covid-19 which saw the company cut operations following curbs that were passed by State to reduce the spread of the pandemic.

At the height of the pandemic, the firm scaled down on major operations, only retaining staff offering critical services such as maintenance.

Keroche has been eyeing more than 20 per cent of the market share with a production plant that has a capacity of producing 30 different brands.

The company has enjoyed steady growth since its inception 18 years ago.

But it has been in the crosshairs of the taxman in recent years after the new Commissioner-General Githii Mburu trained its guns on the alcohol industry in his quest to seal tax leakages in the sector.