Editor's Comment

Kudos to NAPSA

TO HELP mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on various businesses, the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) has given a three months relief of 40 and 100 percent on rentals to its commercial and residential tenants countrywide.
NAPSA director general Yollard Kachinda has said the authority has given a 40 percent waiver on monthly rentals for properties that have remained trading during the COVID-19 while those that were closed in line with Ministry of Health guidelines have been given a 100 percent waiver. The three-month waiver for all tenants is effective April 1, 2020 and will run up to June 30, 2020.
This is truly commendable. The gesture will not only go a long way in providing the much-needed relief to tenants but also puts a human face to the organisation.
NAPSA has shown that though COVID-19 has affected everyone, there is still room to extend a helping hand to those in dire situations.
It is well known that COVID-19 has devastated many facets of life. Individuals, businesses and nations at large have been thrown in disarray.
The impact of COVID-19 on human life and businesses has been traumatising.
Due to the pandemic, many businesses have had to close down while those that have continued to operate do so at minimal production levels.
For businesses that rent premises, the struggle to remain afloat has been more daunting. They have to meet operational costs against drastically reduced or lost income altogether. A number of families too are failing to keep up with rentals and other life’s necessities because many people have lost jobs during this period.
The truth of the matter is that many businesses are likely to fold up if help is not availed.
This is why Government, through the COVID-19 contingent fund, is working to try and inject some life into businesses, especially the small ones which are more vulnerable.
Through the Bank of Zambia, Government has set aside K10 billion to be accessed by small business in order to keep them afloat. Through this fund, which is being administered by commercial banks and other financial institutions, it is hoped that businesses that are on the verge of collapse will receive a new lease of life to survive beyond the COVID-19 era.
While Government is working to see how it can help the economy from total collapse by resuscitating them, its resource basket is limited and can only do so much.
Moreover Government’s budget has been thrown into disarray due to instability of the economy which has led to high inflation levels.
It is therefore evident that greater impact can only be achieved through concerted efforts. And this is what NAPSA has demonstrated.
It is commendable that at a time that many businesses have been evicted from their premises by property owners for failing to pay rentals, NAPSA has decided to give relief to tenants.
While we are not in a place to judge other property owners because we do not know the extent to which they have been affected by the pandemic, those who can should emulate NAPSA.
The rationale is simple: business has been slow and in some instances statistic.
It is not that tenants do not want to pay. They do not just have the means to do so.
The decision taken by NAPSA is not only a good humanitarian gesture but is also a good business strategy.
It shows that NAPSA values the relationship with its clientele more than money.
And by so doing, NAPSA actually stands a better chance of gaining through sustained clientele.
It is also good that NAPSA understands that by asking clients to pay rentals under prevailing circumstances is sentencing these companies to oblivion. The relief given will no doubt go a long way in helping companies get by as they try to find their feet on the market again.
It is hoped that the gesture shown by NAPSA will be emulated by other big business entities with privileged positions.
For instance, banks too for the sake of helping more businesses to thrive can reduce interest rates. Though it will hurt for now, it has potential to bear fruits of more transactions and strengthened relationships with clients.
It is these small and isolated gestures which, when put together, will help Zambia recover faster from the devastating effects of COVID-19.

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