Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Director General James Mburu has come under sharp criticism from Keroche Breweries Limited who are calling for his arrest over his failure to abide by a court order issued on July 14, 2022, requiring him to facilitate the reopening of the brewer’s factory in Naivasha.
Brewer’s Chief Executive Officer Tabitha Karanja moved to court on Friday, July 22, seeking the arrest of James Mburu.
Tabitha is now praying the court to move in with speed to punish Mburu over contravening the order.
"This honourable court be pleased to commit, James Githii Mburu, the contemnor herein to imprisonment for a period of six months for disobeying and being in contempt of orders of this Honourable court issued on 14th July 2022,” she said in her application.
KRA, however, went back to the High Court days ago seeking to reverse a decision directing it to re-open the Naivasha-based Keroche Breweries Ltd.
The taxman said the ruling by Justice Alfred Mabeya last week contradicts earlier orders issued by the court and agreements between them on the payment of taxes running into billions of shillings.
Justice Mabeya earlier directed the KRA to allow the company to resume operations by unsealing Keroche’s packaging line, and stores, and reactivating the Exercisable Goods Management System.
Failure to reopen the firm would lead to the loss of 87,500 litres of beer, which has been filtered and ready for packaging, 1.2 million litres in six tanks of beer that are ready for filtration and packaging, and loss of Ksh.350 million if the beer is destroyed.
In May this year the the alcoholic beverages manufacturer was shut by the taxman for the second time due to tax disputes after the factory was first closed down in February. This rendered over 400 workers jobless.
Keroche and KRA signed a payment plan in March that would see Keroche settle an undisputed tax amount of Ksh957 million over a period of 24 months starting from January 2022.
KRA and Keroche have been in a 16-year long tax dispute resonating around the classification of the brewer’s products, leading to two agreements between the two parties, in July and December 2021.
By the second agreement of December 21, 2021, a tax of Ksh.7.54 billion was agreed to be owing and payable. The brewer, however, stated earlier it only owes KRA Ksh322 million in arrears plus Ksh500 million it had defaulted paying in 24 monthly installments.