Tax collectors raid Nairobi hotels


(Posted 30th December 2013)

The comments made by Mr. David Gachuru, Chairman of the Nairobi County Business Association and also General Manager of one of Nairobi’s landmark hotels, the Sarova Stanley, were probably among the mildest heard in connection with a raid by the Kenya Revenue Authority on several top hotels in Nairobi, which included the Nairobi Hilton, the Sarova Stanley and Sarova Panafric and the EKA Hotel, among others. Mr. Gachuru was quoted to have blamed the revenue administration to be bye and large the ones to carry the blame for failing to ensure that spirits and wines leaving the bonded warehouses bear the new excise stamps when making deliveries to clients and for their failure to provide verification equipment to hotels and train staff to allow them ascertain that the newly introduced stamps were genuine.

Other hoteliers were not so kind and on condition of anonymity let fly, using words like ‘robber barons’ and ‘goons in disguise’. Some of the hotels raided claim to have had bottles in stock for long periods of time, especially wines and called the confiscation of such old stocks ‘a crime against good wine’, saying the hijacking of entire wine racks from temperature controlled storage and taking it into places where it would almost certainly spoil the precious liquids.

The chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers branch in Nairobi too joined into the fray, equally denouncing the KRA actions with well chosen words, though between the lines of the official statements made it was all but clear that those affected were seething. ‘We are considering taking this to court under certificate of urgency’ commented one affected hotelier who admitted to have had ‘substantial quantities’ taken away by the KRA raiders, affecting their business. It could not be established however what measures of appeal those affected can and will take to have the stocks returned to them and avoid a looming 1.5 million Kenya Shillings fine which KRA is reportedly considering on slapping on the businesses.

The Kenya Revenue Authority has in the past often been equated with a ‘bull in the china shop’ behaviour, estranged from society at large, operating outside the general rules of civilized behaviour and in the process caused repeated friction if not diplomatic spats between Uganda and Kenya when unilaterally introducing regulation which subsequently caused for instance fuel shortages in Uganda and beyond, before being pulled back by their political masters.

Attempts to justify the raids and the behaviour of KRA staff by the organization’s mouthpiece were dismissed as without merit nor taking into account or acknowledging the fact and circumstances with at least one source suggesting that the hotels targeted were singled out with ulterior motives. Were that indeed so, the bad form of KRA would continue in the public eye, not that any of the KRA senior managers appears to mind that bad publicity in the least as they continue to play judge, jury and executioner all at once. Watch this space.

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