Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya coalition party presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga has come to the defense of Keroche Breweries Limited following its closure over tax arrears.
While calling for the reopening of the leading beer manufacturer, Odinga urged the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to avoid taking punitive measures that kill key industry players in the name of reclaiming taxes.
The presidential candidate argued that the government should regulate taxes and grant investors good tax payment laws that allow them to be compliant.
“It is not right to become punitive in terms of taxes. If taxes are too high, there is a tendency to evade them, but if they are low and manageable, people will pay. Don’t close a business because the owner has defaulted in paying taxes," Odinga stated.
“That is why am telling them, let Keroche go, don’t kill Keroche. If she cannot pay today, let her pay tomorrow. Spread out the payment. She is a Kenyan... Where can she run away to?"
KRA recently shut down the Naivasha-based brewer after it defaulted on an earlier agreement to repay tax arrears amounting to Sh322 million.
Odinga, who spoke on Friday during a meeting with Mt Kenya business leaders in Thika, termed Keroche as a major revenue generator and source of employment
“Don’t do it because if you close a business, you are not only killing the investor but you are also killing the employees. The private sector is an engine for economic growth. The government needs to create an enabling environment for the sector to thrive by removing bureaucratic red tape so that the private sector can move and create wealth,” he added.
On Tuesday, Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja insisted that the shutdown of the company was politically motivated, citing her decision to vie for the Nakuru senate seat under Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA party.