. . . to persuade employers to pay wages despite lockdown
MASERU – The Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is negotiating with the government through its special committees to persuade banks and employers to relax loans for a certain time and pay salaries during the lockdown.
Secretary General of Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry Fako Hakane said they are negotiating that at least loans be postponed for two months to five months so that people cannot be charged mounting interests during this time and that salaries be paid as normal.
“The lockdown will affect many businesses negatively. Business owners are expected to pay rent at the end of the month, but the problem will be that they will not be having the money due to staying at home hence why we are negotiating with the government through its committees chosen to fight COVID-19 to persuade banks to relax loans for a certain time, maybe two months to five months so that people will not be charged interests and errors during this time.
“We are also in negotiations with our associates to help the government financially in combatting the spread of the virus,” he noted. He, however, noted that the challenge comes when they have to address challenges facing the informal sector as business owners in the sector are not in the tax net. This means even if the government decides to help small business owners with a certain amount it will be hard to locate such business owners as they are not available in the database.
“We are and have been suggesting that street vendors and all informal business owners be included in the database so that they can get assistance in a crisis like this,” he said. He further noted that factory workers will be affected as mostly no work no pay policy apply in most factories. Hakane noted LCCI is also negotiating with the government to persuade employers to pay salaries to factory workers because the lockdown is out of their control and the spread of COVID-19 is a crisis that needs unity.
He said they are also pushing for Post Bank to support start-ups in the country to create employment and grow the country’s economy because most commercial banks do not support start-ups and only focus on expansion of established businesses. Hakane said despite the consequences that come with the lockdown, it is a good and necessary move meant to protect the country and its economy. “The lockdown is necessary for a small country like Lesotho which accommodates approximately two million and has no adequate health facilities.
“It is better to have a lock down in order to control the spread of the virus instead of choosing to die in the name of saving the economy whose growth we might even fail to witness if precautions are not taken,” he noted. He said the country will recover whatever it will lose after it has dealt with COVID-19 epidemic. He added the fact that Lesotho does not have any COVID-19 cases is questionable because there are no testing stations in the country where people can go voluntarily to test; making taking preventive measures a better option for Basotho.