By Bahle Gama | 2020-05-28
Business Eswatini says job losses are an inevitable factor after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
Business Eswatini CEO E. Nathi Dlamini said this was an inescapable reality and people should brace themselves for very hard times ahead. “This is an unprecedented, and dare I say - unique situation, in which we find ourselves, hence we have no template from which to replicate lessons learned from an earlier occurrence.
“We learn as events unfold and one should be humble enough to say that the consequences are both grim and very costly.
The pandemic has deprived us of revenues including tax income, employment and further degraded our social and health systems,” he said.
He further revealed that they received frequent calls from employers who were gravely concerned by the state of affairs in the economy and reported that as expected, business performance had ebbed to its lowest imaginable level due to the consequent partial lockdowns effected by governments across the globe and the uncertainties brought by the virus.
“Our members aver to the fact that their businesses are sinking (for obvious reasons) and this is compounded by the recent economic headwinds which had already been buoyed by the reduced economic activity globally even before the pandemic showed up.
Some of our members have gone to the worst extent possible - even as to exhaust their reserves and credit options to fund their operations throughout the pandemic whose end remains elusive at best,” he said. Dlamini also expressed his gratitude to employers who have, to this day, fought hard to keep their employees in employment.
He pointed out that employees form the human capital of any organisation and, as such one of the most valuable assets any company could have.
He further stated that with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation, humans still have a role to play in any industry. The CEO also thanked employers who, even without revenues coming in, were able to provide salaries to their employees.
“This is an act of kindness which will resonate with workers for a long time to come. We also empathise with those employers whose businesses cannot afford to sustain the payroll. BE hopes this situation will pass soon and things will stabilise.
As employers, we will do everything reasonably possible to avoid job losses as we are already on the wrong side of unemployment as a country,” he added.
On another note, Dlamini announced that they were also working on an impact assessment survey in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which would unearth the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the business sector with a view of putting together some remedies to mitigate the effects. He said the survey was commissioned a week ago and questionnaires had already been sent out to the members of both Business Eswatini and those of FESBC.
He encouraged those who have received the assessment tools to fill them out diligently because the intentions of the exercise are good and could be what is needed to crystallise the situation on the ground.
He also said it was based on this information that assistance from the International Labour Organisation would be given to Eswatini, and Business Eswatini would also rely on the findings to adapt their service to members of the federation and chamber.
"Without objective feedback from the business sector, we can only speculate about the likely impact, which we know has been adverse for a majority of sectors. For our development partners, government, and other stakeholders, we need to be fully armed with this information if we are to meaningfully engage on the issues faced by business with an acceptable level of confidence,” Dlamini said.
The survey can be accessed via e-mail, WhatsApp, SMS, and through a QR code which can be scanned into mobile phones and/or tablets.
He added that businesses who are willing to participate in the assessment could contact the office where they would be given the link to participate depending on the response rates of their sectors.
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