KIGALI, April 28 (Reuters) - Rwandan brewer Bralirwa’s pretax profit fell 14.2 percent last year to 21.3 billion Rwandan francs ($31.2 million) due to the country’s economic downturn and higher taxes on beer to its main export market, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The company, 75 percent-owned by Heineken, said it was concerned by the tax regime in Congo, but was cautiously optimistic about the outlook for 2014, which was “encouraging”.
Rwanda’s growth rate fell to 4.6 percent in 2013, after averaging 8.2 percent from 2006 to 2012, because of aid cuts imposed after it was accused of playing a role in a rebellion in eastern Congo, a charge the country has denied.
“GDP is a measure that the government and companies watch very carefully as to the health of the economy. It’s also a measure for us of disposable cash in people’s pockets,” Bralirwa managing director Jonathan Hall told reporters on Monday.
Bralirwa is Rwanda’s oldest brewery with rights to produce brands including Amstel. Production of Guinness ceased in 2013 after the franchise was terminated. It also produces branded soft drinks such as Coca-Cola.
Exports fell by 29 percent, largely due to increased duties charged by Congo, its biggest export market, but it vowed to seek new export markets in the East African economic bloc.
Indeed, 2014 appeared to have started on a better note.
“The first quarter of the year has seen an encouraging start. The slowdown seems to have stopped and there seems to be more activity in the economy,” Hall said.
The company announced a dividend of 15 francs for 2013, a decrease of 25 percent from 2012. (1 USD = 682.418 RWF) (Reporting by Jenny Clover; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Alison Williams)