The outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia has dealt a huge blow to the country’s economy, a Liberian businessman operating in Liberia has observed, calling on the government to re-align its fiscal budget to rescue local businesses drowning from the impact of the virus.
Amin Modad, a hotel entrepreneur and proprietor of Bella Cassa, a local hotel in Sinkor, told our Business Desk on Tuesday, August 26 that businesses are seeking a tax holiday and other incentives from the government to make up for the losses they are enduring as a result of the Ebola epidemic.
“We know exactly the constraints the government is going through at this time and we don’t want to put further pressure on them. But the fact remains that we [domestic private sector] are drowning as a result of the Ebola virus,” Modad said. Many Liberian-own hotel businesses have shut down as a result of the lack of clients.
The Ebola virus has killed 1,400 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The virus outbreak has slowed government’s revenue generation in the three countries as expatriates and foreign business owners have fled.
“We in the hotel business are among those [businesses] worse it by the Ebola outbreak because our clientele level has dwindled immensely,” he said. “The government must give us [businesses] a period with tax holiday and duty free privileges. We are not being insensitive to the government’s problems."
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, Modad, a real estate and trade developer and former senior policy advisor to the Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC) disclosed that his hotel currently has less than three clients as a result of the Ebola outbreak.
The Liberian businessman, who says he holds a Master degree in business administration (MBA), explained that he has downgraded his staff from 44 permanent staff to only 20. He said the rest of the staff including 14 auxiliary staff, has been urged to stay home.
“We had to take such a decision because we are no more receiving clients,” Modad added. According to him, most of the non-essential staff staying home receives part of their monthly salaries for their upkeep because of the prevailing economic condition.