Spirits manufacturers sue Nkaissery over delay in releasing report on illicit liquor

By: VINCENT AGOYA

A spirits manufacturers’ association has sued the government over a report on the control and combating of illicit liquor.

The Association of Spirits Manufacturers of Kenya has sued the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery for the delay in releasing the report by an inter-agency task force.

They said, in a suit filed by lawyer Danson Mungatana on Tuesday, the delay “has given undue reason to stop its members from conducting legitimate business while giving foreign competitors an upper hand in the market.”

“It is common knowledge that the members of the applicant were inspected and the report duly prepared but the report remains unreleased more than four months since the formation of the task force,” the manufacturers said.

They claimed some unscrupulous task force members from the Cabinet secretary’s office had been calling individual manufacturers and demanding huge bribes to either include or exclude their names in the report.

They stated in court that on July 3, the Kenya Bureau of Standards called a meeting and informed them that due to the nationwide campaign President Uhuru Kenyatta had ordered, it had been resolved that all licences held by manufacturers of potable spirits be suspended pending “re-inspection and re-testing of all products by the inter agency team.”

“On the same day KBS published a list of all those whose licences had been suspended and the following day it published another list which left out other manufacturers without giving any reason at all,” the suit reads.

UNFAIR ACTION

The applicants claim they have been discriminated against and that the act was a “clear demonstration of the unfair administrative action by the CS.”

They claim the said inspection has since been carried out and a report prepared to that effect but some people had decided to sit on it as there is no explanation why it has not been released.

“Members are continuing to pay factory rents, loans, salaries and suffer losses through the delay,” an affidavit reads.

They have also claimed that the “Big Boys” in the industry with foreign ownership had been allowed to manufacture while they had been stopped.

“It is also a fact that the active ingredient is the same ingredient called food grade ethanol,” the court documents read.

They now want the CS compelled to release the report as a matter of public duty to citizens.

“Members were given licences by KBS after due inspection to manufacture excisable goods under the customs and Excise Act,” they said.

Mr Mungatana said members had become desperate as some have received letters from various banks calling in on loans for non-servicing.

They have also claimed they continue to suffer negative public image as their competitors from other countries continue to move into the market to enjoy the boom.

The matter has been certified urgent and the respective respondent directed to file a reply in two weeks.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION