Increased beer tax forcing youth to drink cheap, unhealthy alcohol, economist Joy Kiiru says
Dr. Joy Kiiru, an economist and scholar, has slammed the Kenya Revenue Authority's (KRA) recent excise duty revision, particularly on products classified as luxurious by the taxman.
Dr. Kiiru said the move jeopardizes economic growth by discouraging consumption at a time when the country is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, in an interview with Citizen TV on Wednesday.
“I wonder if there is co-ordination in these policies. 2021 is supposed to be a recovery year due to COVID, as we open up businesses. We expect Kenyans who are down to be picking up, that’s what we expect and what the government has said, and it’s the right way to go,” said Kiiru.
“When you start taxing, that is discouraging consumption, expenditure and the demand for goods and services don’t you see the contradiction in those two policies?” she posed.
Kiiru also slammed increasing beer taxes, claiming that it forces Kenyans to drink unhealthy, cheap alcohol.
“We already have a young disturbed people who are drinking some bad alcohol… we have lost a generation of young people due to alcoholism and it’s because they are drinking the ‘kill me quick’ cheap liquors,” stated Kiiru, adding: “You see people saying beer is a luxury, no, beer means the health of a generation. If you keep taxing the regular healthy beer so high, then you are digging the graves of these young men deeper.”
According to a notice issued on November 2 by KRA, the excise duty levied on various products was reviewed upwards.
These include fruit and vegetable juices, bottled water, beer and ciders, powdered beer, wines and alcohol spirits. Others are cigarettes, cigars and tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and cartridges used in electronic cigarettes, and other manufactured tobacco substitutes.
The new rates also apply to imported motorcycles (except for motorcycle ambulances), imported sugar confectionery, and white chocolate.