Nigerian businesses say that their top COVID-19-related concerns are the availability of cash to pay their bills and the safety of their staff. That’s according to a report published by PwC Nigeria.
The firm disclosed this at a webinar it held recently to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is based on a survey of 3,000 respondents, including CEOs, managers, and business owners—a group representing top management in commercial establishments across the country.
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According to the survey results, about 22.5% of businesses were most concerned about their liquidity. This points to their need for funds to meet their ongoing obligations. Staff safety was the second-highest item on the business’s priority list, with 15.4% of them identifying it as their biggest concern.
About 14.6% of respondents said their top consideration was infrastructure for remote work. Due to existing restrictions on movement, many commercial establishments have asked their employees to work from home if they can. Some workers will struggle with this transition because power and reliable internet connections are not always available where they live.
Interestingly, 78.4% of companies surveyed said they had no plans to lay off workers. This is despite growing doubts about the ability of partially functioning companies to retain their employees. This leaves a minority 21.6% that has expressed intentions to dismiss some of their staff.
Of those that plan to lay off workers, 44.6% indicated that they could reconsider their decision if the government intervened to pay a percentage of their employees’ wages. The remainder said their plans would not be altered even if there was government intervention.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most businesses to hold back on new investments. More than half the firms captured in the report will be delaying their investment decisions. Only 19.4% plan to go ahead with funding projects. If this picture is replicated across Nigeria, it’s likely to hurt the country’s economy.
While most businesses agree that the government should support them through the current situation, there’s no consensus on the best way this can be done. About 30% prefer tax relief; 29.3% want low or zero-interest loans.
Companies are also broadly willing to support the government’s battle against COVID-19. An overwhelming majority– about 85% –were more likely to donate relief items. Just fewer than 11% said they could help with cash contributions to a government fund.
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