Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party presidential candidate Raila Odinga has defended Keroche Breweries Limited in its ugly tax war with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Raila rushed to defend Keroche, which is linked with Nakuru UDA Senatorial candidate Tabitha Karanja, after KRA shut down its breweries for defaulting on payment of tax arrears.

Speaking at Thika Greens in Murang’a County on Friday, Raila urged government agencies not to take punitive steps that strangle manufacturers in their efforts to collect revenue.

He instead advised the government to put in place regulations that encourage all investors to comply with their tax payment obligations without duress.

“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," said Raila.

He added, “That is why I am telling them; let Keroche go, don’t kill Keroche. If she cannot pay today, let her pay tomorrow. Spread out the payment."

Keroche Breweries, which is based in Naivasha, was earlier this week shut down by KRA after it regened on a deal signed with the taxman to settle taxes totaling Sh322 million.

The former Prime Minister noted that closing down a company like Keroche would make it unable to meet its tax obligations and also result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

“Don’t do it because if you close a business, you are not only killing the investor but you are also killing the employees,” Raila stated.

He pledged that his government would protect the private business sector and formulate tax laws that will encourage investments and businesspeople to be pay taxes willingly.

“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,” concluded Raila.

Speaking on Tuesday, Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja said the firm was closed on May 15, 2022, after it defaulted on a pact signed with KRA to repay tax arrears totaling Sh30 million.