By BENNIE MUNDANDO
MASSIVE job losses are looming if Small Scale Enterprises and struggling companies are not immediately identified and helped, the Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) has warned.
EAZ has proposed a multi-sectoral economic recovery think-tank comprising the public and private sectors be set up immediately to identify the most hit sectors in dire need of an urgent stimulus package instead of leaving it to banks with predatory lending rates.
EAZ president Lubinda Haabazoka sounded the warning yesterday that many companies were on the verge of collapse unless they get immediate help.
“WE must immediately identify the most-hit sectors in the economy and provide them with a stimulus package failure to which we will be hit with massive job losses shortly,” he warned.
In a related development, Change Life Zambia leader, Joseph Kasongo has warned that the failure by Government to make labour concessions in view of new draconian employment code would lead to job losses.
Mr Kasongo pointed out that Food Lovers at East Park Mall had been reported as having issues with bailiffs and Kagem Mine had cut housing allowances because of the devastating effects of Covid-19.
In an interview, Dr Haabazoka yesterday told the Daily Nation that the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak has had a telling effect on productivity and the labour market.
He warned that some of the companies closed due to Covid-19, may never recover unless there is immediate action and help.
He said such a team of experts will help actualize President Lungu’s desire to ensure that industries stayed afloat and jobs were protected despite the Covid-19 economic scare.
Dr. Haabazoka said there was need to ensure that all the presidential directives began seeing fruits as soon as possible, adding that this is the time that the country needed to create wealth for Zambian citizens.
He warned that if no interventions were put in place to ensure that businesses were cushioned against the challenges they were facing, most of them will shut down and that those which were told to close owing to the disease may never come back.
“In terms of identification of industries or sectors that need support, we can borrow from experience from other developed nations like Germany that have helped their countries to revamp industries.
“This matter should be cross-cutting and should not follow the Seventh-National Development Plan (7NDP). We should follow the principle as mentioned by President Edgar Lungu of helping who is hit the hardest. Those are the ones which are in dire need of a stimulus package.
“There are a lot of private schools that have closed down because they cannot afford rentals and salaries for teachers when they are not operating.
“There are bars and restaurants which have been told to close. We need to sit down and understand who is hit the hardest and channel the money to these sectors,” Dr. Haabazoka said.
He said by so doing, Government will not only be protecting jobs but will also make it easy for businesses that were closed to come back.
“If you continue paying rentals and salaries but you are not generating income, at the end of four months, you will shut down and never to come back. We must avoid this by providing interventions so that immediately businesses that have bene closed are told to open up, everybody opens and it’s business as usual,” Dr. Haabazoka said.
He expressed disappointment that despite the Presidential directive over a stimulus package, those who were supposed to implement it were reluctant to do so and the whole exercise needed to be transparent.
“The president in his last address to the nation mentioned various interventions that have the capacity to turn around the economy of this country. The President’s job is to give direction and implementers to star implementing.
Unfortunately, as EAZ, we are very disappointed at the fact that implementers have been very slow to move at the President’s directive,” he said.
By BENNIE MUNDANDO