Call for a bailout

Shops closed at Vitogo Pde, Lautoka City. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

A Waila businessman has shed jobs and says he is facing a tough time meeting bank loan repayments as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Sridhar Nimmagaddaand, the owner of Siris Apartments, claimed business was down by about 80 per cent and he was on the verge of closing down for good.

He called on Government to provide a bailout or some kind of assistance for businesses such as his.

He said the State should also move quickly to contain the virus outbreak so restrictions could be lifted, borders could reopen and staff could be re-employed.

“In 2019, we did more than $550,000 business but in 2020 because of COVID-19, we only managed $104,000 which was a huge loss for us,” Mr Nimmagaddaand said.

“There are no tourists or international flights coming and the locals at this time cannot afford to stay in a hotel, so we are not having any customers.

“I used to have 12 staff but now I am down to three.” He said he had to redesign his business model in light of the challenges caused by COVID-19.

“When we opened the hotel, it was policy that we would give out rooms on a daily basis but because of a lack of customers and because of the curfew, we have started giving rooms out on an hourly basis.

“By doing that we are only able to earn $30 to $50 which is not good for this business because we have staff, bills and loans to pay.

“Last year, we got a six-month loan repayment holiday, but after that the bank started forcing us to pay and I had to or they would have taken legal action.

“From December, I began making repayments but it only covered the interest and now I am borrowing money from my family to pay so that I don’t lose everything I worked hard to build.

“I am asking for Government to help businessmen like me because we are struggling to pay loans and might lose our businesses and this will impact on our workers and their families.

“I am planning to sell my house in India to make loan repayments so I can save my hotel, that’s how bad things are.”

More Stories