Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner General John Njiraini may be summoned to Parliament to explain alleged laxity by his officers in ensuring only certified alcoholic beverages were in circulation.
A petition filed in the National Assembly by Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata accuses KRA enforcement officers of corruption which explains the availability of fake alcoholic drinks in the market and failure to decentralize enforcement measures to stockists who, he argued, if issued with the gadgets, would use them to detect counterfeit stamps.
He also said that despite widespread circulation of counterfeit spirits, there was no coordination between licenced alcohol manufacturers, KRA, provincial Administration, Kenya Police and County governments in ensuring they were stamped out.
The petition by a resident of Nyeri County, James Mugo, says the tax collectors derives substantive revenues from the industry but the sector had been infiltrated by unscrupulous traders, who have used unorthodox means to evade tax, including using fake revenue stamps, purported to be from the KRA.
According to the petition, filed on August 23, at the office of Senior Deputy Clerk, the use of genuine revenue stamps also serves to check trade in illicit alcoholic drinks, which have in the past resulted in tragic consequences, with several consumers either dying after consuming lethal concoctions, and scores of others losing their eyesight.
The government has also in the past engaged in war on illicit brews especially in Central Kenya, launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, and implemented largely by local MPs with the help of the public and police officers, where alcohol manufacturing dens and stockists were raided and what was believed to be illicit alcohol destroyed.
According to the petitioner, several attempts to have the KRA officials implement enforcement measures had gone unheeded and that the taxman was also unwilling to supply traders with the requisite gadgets, so as to assist in enforcement especially in rural towns.
Other officials likely to be summoned to appear before the National Administration and Security Committee, which is expected to handle the matter once the petition is approved by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, include Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, to “explain measures undertaken in the last two years to fight counterfeit revenue stamps in the alcoholic drinks industry.”
The petition also requires the committee to hold public hearings in affected towns and cities, on how to deal with the menace, and prepare a report on how the government could effectively ensure that only safe drinks were available in the market.
Mr Kang’ata also wants Mr Muturi to direct the Committee on Implementation to ensure the proposals brought to the House by the Security committee are implemented to the end.