THE Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) has given its tenants a rental holiday to ease the adverse effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
A recent statement from the corporation said tenants who are classified as essential service providers would be exempted from paying rent for April 2020 while those offering non-essentials would be excused for April and May 2020.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane last month declared a state of emergency and eventually ordered a nationwide lockdown running from 30 March 2020 to 21 April 2020.
The lockdown was imposed on the majority of entities that are classified as non-essential services. Among the businesses that have been operational are banks, general cafes, supermarkets, farm feeds, wholesalers, meat wholesalers, domestic fuel dealers, bakeries, butcheries, green grocers and dairy shops.
Funeral homes, pharmacies, food and medicine manufacturing companies and garages are allowed to open for 24 hours.
The rest of the entities remain closed including factories which employ 45 000 people countrywide. Since most companies will not be productive, it is unlikely that they will afford paying rentals.
The LNDC board made the decision following a call by Mr Thabane for government agencies and parastatals to help the private sector shoulder the economic impact of the pandemic.
Mr Thabane also unveiled the government’s plan to establish a relief fund to support private sector businesses that are negatively affected by COVID-19. He said this and other measures were meant to prevent job losses.
“In its sitting of 14 April 2020, the board of the corporation approved a rental holiday package for businesses that occupy the corporation’s buildings on the following conditions;
“Businesses that are classified as essential and have been operating during lockdown period qualify for a one-month rental holiday for the month of April 2020.
“Businesses that are classified as non-essential and have not been operating during the lockdown period qualify for a two-month rental holiday for April and May 2020,” a statement from LNDC said.
The LNDC said the intervention was aimed at allowing businesses stay afloat amid dwindling revenues while also maintaining their employment levels.
“One Job lost is one too many for Lesotho in these challenging times.
“The corporation aligns with the new reality that Lesotho and indeed the world is facing a truly unprecedented situation that calls for enhanced solidarity among us as a nation to support our private sector in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and save jobs,” the LNDC said.