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Corona Fallout

Economic crisis to hit small businesses most

Published : Wednesday, 8 April, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 226
Walid Khan

The nationwide lockdown since March 26 to prevent coronavirus infection has made severe economic impact on the country's small businesses. Businessmen say the economic crisis can turn into social crisis, if they don't get support from the government.
They have also demanded government interference on house rent waiver for their business organizations.
Experts said in the first phase, the economic crisis has impacted the daily wage earners while it would impact the small businessmen in the second phase. To resolve the crisis, we have to increase the purchasing capacity of those who live day to day by creating employment.
Expressing worry about the future of their businesses, some businessmen said if the situation continues for a few more months, they will not be able to survive.
Sarwar Ovi, a coffee shop owner at Gendaria in the city, said, "My family is solely dependent on my income. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, sales in my shop have dropped drastically and after the countrywide lockdown my income has totally stopped."
"Initially, I thought the problem would be solved within the first 15 days, so I had sent my family to my village home after the government closed all educational institutions. Now, I think this problem will prolong. In this situation, I don't know how will I survive."
Some businessmen said debtors are not paying their dues due to the lockdown. As a result, they will have to face severe financial crisis at the end of the month of April.
Expressing frustration over the situation, Md Saheen, owner of Khadiza Fabrics at Islampur, said, "I need to spend at least Tk 1.20 lakh every month on rent of two shops and salaries of four of my employees."
"Now, the debtors have stopped paying dues to keep money in hand to tide over the lockdown period. The period may be very long. I don't know how would I pay the rent and salary after this month when the shops will reopen," he added.
Prof Dr MM Akash of Economic Department of the Dhaka University told the Daily Observer that more than 80 per cent of the workforce is working in the informal sector. They have no ability to survive during the period of economic crisis. Most of them are fully dependent on their daily income.
On the other hand, our small businessmen are fully dependent on the 80 per cent working people's purchasing capacity. "If we cannot ensure earning of the daily wage earners, the small businessmen will be affected in the second phase of the present crisis, Prof Akash added.
Some businessmen are worried about the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
Munir Hossain, one of the partners of Aloha Laxmibazar Coaching Centre, told this correspondent that they have already fallen in problem to meet the salaries of the teachers and staff and paying the house rent due to the crisis.
"Most schools and colleges remained closed. In this situation, we are not sure whether the students will come back to the centre. Students have stopped paying tuition fees. Until the reopening of classes, I don't know how we will manage to defray the huge amount."
Businessmen are also facing problems due to shortage of labourers.
Vai Vai Birani House owner Ibrahim Mia at Patuatuli of Old Dhaka said that although the government has given permission to keep their restaurant open, they are facing crisis of workers. All our staff have already left Dhaka for their village homes after the government announced countrywide closure. Without the chef and other staff we cannot run our restaurant.  
Md Babu, a supplier of building construction material like sand, bricks and surki, said, "Our bisiness is labout-intensive. We need labourers in every step of our business. Without labourers we cannot run our business even for a single day."
Expressing grave concern, Babu said after reopening of the market I will face problem for shortage of labourers. Because all the labourers already went to their village homes they will not come back in due time. But I have to deliver my orders in due time otherwise my customers will go to other suppliers, he added.

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