KRA opens probe on Uhuru, allies’ firms

National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung'u

National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u. The CS confirmed that the government is currently reviewing companies that have been enjoying tax exemptions or which have evaded paying their dues.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto’s administration is now investigating at least 300 companies associated with powerful individuals in the previous regimes over non-payment of taxes, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

Yesterday, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) chairperson Anthony Ng’ang’a Mwaura confirmed that they are currently reviewing the companies that have been enjoying tax exemptions or which have evaded paying their dues.

“There is a law governing exemptions. That is the one we are following strictly,” Prof Ndung’u said.

The Sunday Nation understands that most of the companies that are likely to be affected in Dr Ruto’s tax shake-up are those owned by the country’s big families, with Mr Mwaura saying firms in the list belong to the ‘untouchables’ of former administrations.

According to Mr Mwaura, some of the companies have not been paying taxes since independence.

“Everyone has to come on board when it comes to paying taxes because even the President is paying his taxes. No one in Kenya Kwanza is being exempted from taxation and that is why very many companies of untouchable people of former administrations will have to pay tax now. There are people in this country who have not been paying taxes since independence,” said Mr Mwaura.

Some of the companies being investigated, he said, are those whose owners had enjoyed tax exemption by law and others whose owners were using their closeness with powerful persons in government to intimidate KRA officials.

Mama Ngina dare

Yesterday, in a rare public outburst, former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta waded into the tax debate, daring the Kenya Kwanza government to sell her property “if I have not paid taxes”.

“Ukikosa kulipa ile unatakiwa kulipa, lazima vitu vyako vitachukuliwa na kuuzwa. Kwa hivyo hakuna haja ... hakuna mambo ya kuwaharibia wengine majina ndio watu wasikike eti wanafanya kazi, wanaendesha nchi, hapana! (If you fail to pay taxes, then your property should be taken and auctioned to pay what you owe. There’s no need of mudslinging anybody so that you can be seen to be working),” Mama Ngina, former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s mother and widow of Kenya’s first president, Jomo, was quoted by Citizen TV as saying. 

The Kenya Kwanza administration is under pressure to increase annual revenue collection to Sh3 trillion amid rising debt and a demand for funding of multibillion-shilling projects.

The Sunday Nation understands that the ongoing investigations are not only into companies of sacred cows of the past administration, but also of some individuals in President Ruto’s inner circle who want to bully KRA officials so as not to pay taxes.

Mr Mwaura said KRA has given the companies that have been evading tax timelines to pay up.

Mr Mwaura told the Sunday Nation that a wines and spirits company of a senior member of the former administration owes KRA Sh7.6 billion.

Another, he said, “is dumping oil in the country for export”.

DP stance

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua this week insisted that firms must pay their dues.

“Let those who have not been paying tax not get nervous. We are open to discussion on how you can pay in bits. You can pay Sh1 billion every month until the balance is cleared. It's very simple, everybody must pay tax,” said Mr Gachagua.

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna accused the Head of State of doublespeak on the matter of using state machinery to settle political scores.

“This was expected because we know exactly who he is. We knew he was lying when he said the era of sending KRA, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Corruption (EACC) after political opponents is gone because he is a bitter and vindictive man who will never pass up an opportunity to harass those who don’t support him,” he said.

Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni yesterday accused the President of weaponising state agencies for political reasons. 

“This is a tactic used by other despotic governments to take the businesses of other people. He is targeting Mount Kenya businesses,” said Mr Kioni.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi and Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi said it was surprising that Kenya Kwanza politicians had taken over the role of KRA in demanding companies and individuals pay taxes.

“I would advise Ruto to focus on delivering on his promises to Kenyans. Taxes by the Kenyatta family alone will not run the economy. Every Kenyan has an obligation to pay taxes, but the way this matter has been made a subject of public rallies confirms our fear of state capture,” Mr Mbadi said.

Mr Osotsi termed the matter a pure political witch-hunt meant to frustrate Mr Kenyatta.


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.