Businesses continue to face losses even as markets reopen
July 11, 2021 02:11 PM NPT
BANKE, July 11: The resumption of businesses and public movement in Nepalgunj has gained momentum following the government's decision to loosen the prohibitory order upto some extent. However, despite that, businesses in the district have not been able to restabilize their earnings. The loss in business has left entrepreneurs finding it difficult to pay their rents.
According to Rafik Ahamad, a local businessman, the lingering risk of COVID-19 has made it difficult to maintain a steady business. He pays a monthly rent of Rs 20,000, but has not been able to earn even Rs 1,000 per day. The current situation has increased his problems to run his household as well as pay his rent on time. “I am earning around Rs 500 to 600 a day,” Ahamad said. “My current earnings have made it difficult for me to even pay my rent,” he added. “Business owners are facing huge problems due to the government's inability to come up with a proper program,” Ahamad said.
The scenario is similar for Sabnam Khatur, who awaits the arrival of customers inside her shop. Someday, she is unable to make a single sale and returns home empty-handed. “The business is very slow despite the reopening of the markets,” Khatur said. “The risk of getting infected has stopped the trade,” she added.
Khatur expressed her woes about having to reopen her shop because of shame, despite having no sales. “I can't keep my shop shut when every other shop around is open. I have no other option than to reopen my shop despite having no business,” she added.
The local administration had decided to lift the prohibitory order to some extent, following the decrease in risk of COVID-19. The movement around Nepalgunj has increased after public vehicles inside the district were allowed to operate while following the health and safety measures. Despite the increase in public movement, businesses have failed to earn a stable income, leaving business owners to bear huge losses.
According to Kusman Khan, a business owner, it has become difficult to pay rent as house owners refuse to give any discounts. Prior to the pandemic, Khan used to sell about 10 to 20 sets of mobile phones per day. She has only been able to sell about two mobile sets at the moment. “I had huge hopes of regaining my business when the store reopened, but I was wrong,” Khan said. However, businesses have a chance to make a comeback if the government decides to minimize the risk of COVID-19 by providing vaccines to everyone, according to Khan.
Business owners around Nepalgunj are facing similar problems. The ban on travel for people from outside the district has left the local businesses to suffer, Jamiya Khatur, another local business owner said. “How long can the locals keep purchasing items,” Khatur said. The current scenario would be much different if movement of people from outer districts could continue, she added. Furthermore, people have not been able to make purchases other than the basic necessities. The economy will become normal when the hotel and tourism industry are allowed to operate, Khatur said.