By Anna Ingwafa
Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has called on all financial institutions to consider restructuring floods-affected businesses’ loans and allow them to recover financially.
NCCI Chief Executive Officer, Taarah Shaanika, was briefing journalists on the chamber and other stakeholders’ contributions and assistance towards the flood situation in the northern regions of Omusati, Ohangwena and Oshana at Ongwediva last Thursday. He said some of the affected businesses which have either been closed or are experiencing serious loss of income have borrowed money in one way or another and are expected to honour their contracts with financial institutions.
He made a similar call to local authorities to review municipal rates and taxes imposed on the affected businesses and allow them to recover.
“Many of the businesses which are closed do not use municipal services currently and it will only be fair to consider exempting these businesses for the period which they are not using these services due to closure of their premises.”
The NCCI is concerned that unless the affected businesses are given some tangible relief, some may close permanently. This will result in low levels of economic activities and loss of jobs.
“The country is already facing economic challenges and high unemployment and every effort must be made to preserve every job which we have now or which could be created. The NCCI will therefore engage all stakeholders which may be of any assistance to provide relief to businesses in order to improve the business environment in the region which has been made ugly and unfriendly by the floods. The chamber will do everything possible on behalf of its members to improve the business environment and allow businesses to ensure long-term sustainability,” said Shaanika.
The chamber is worried by the consequences of floods to businesses and the employment opportunities created by the businesses.
According to Shaanika, many businesses were forced to close down, while some are experiencing significant reduction in income.
The business environment is increasingly difficult and NCCI expects many, if not all, businesses to declare losses this year due to floods.
NCCI made a call to all affected businesses, especially those which are closed or have damaged buildings and infrastructure, to register with the NCCI office at Ongwediva providing information related to the nature and severity of financial and material damages.
The registration will allow the chamber to complete the assessment and make necessary recommendations to the Government, financial institutions, local authorities and other stakeholders with a view to reconstruct the economy in the affected regions and ensure long-term sustainability of businesses and employment of the people.
After NCCI completes its assessment of the flood situation, a report will be submitted to the board of directors for adoption and further directives will be given to the Secretariat.
Shaanika urged all businesses in Namibia to provide moral, human, financial and material support towards rehabilitation projects, which will be launched in the next two weeks. “We will need businesses to volunteer their workforce, their equipment and other necessities in order to make maximum impact on the situation.”
He thanked the Government for responding and providing leadership in the face of the devastating floods. The chamber welcomed the provision made in the 2008/9 national budget dedicated to the flood situation and possible repercussions emanating thereof.
Meanwhile, Shaanika noted the NCCI restructuring efforts in Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto.
Shaanika said the only branch office based at Ongwediva is serving all the regions. It has been difficult to provide services to all the members throughout the north and that prompted the board to restructure.
NCCI will have committees in the towns of Ondagwa, Ongwediva, Oshakati, Eenhana, Helao Nafindi, Omuthiya and Outapi to facilitate NCCI services to businesses.
The restructuring is aimed at improving service delivery efficiency in these regions for the benefit of the business community.
“The election of NCCI representative committees in the mentioned towns will be held in the next two months including the election of a new regional executive committee, because the current executive committee term has expired and it has been operating without substantive chairperson since the departure of our late Philip Amwele,” Shaanika said.
Completion of the restructuring process is expected before the NCCI annual general meeting scheduled for early June in Windhoek where a new president and board of directors will be elected for a term of two years.