The business community across the country is facing numerous challenges due to Covid-19. Apart from feeling the pinch of global slowdown and its impact, businesses face complete closure or negligible activity to meet even day-to-day expenses.
The biggest challenge most of the small business units are facing is in the form of monthly rent. Most of such commercial tenants cannot meet this monthly obligation and face reminders from the landlords or their commercial agents that are proving to be strenuous for most of them.
An Omani woman entrepreneur admitted that she had been keeping the licence, and all possible documents up to date to avoid any penalty and run the business when things get normal post-Covid.
“It is almost one-and-a-half years since my training institutes are closed, but the landlords are insisting on rent. We have cut down all other expenditures and sent some employees home... I may have to close if there is too much pressure even though I will end up losing big money that I invested to start my business,” she said on the condition of anonymity.
She called for some intervention from the business consortium like Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industries (OCCI) or any other agency so that there is some relief to businesses that are either facing closure or not in a position to sustain due to closure of their premises or often facing effectively shutting down of the business.
Abdulaziz, an electronic accessory shop owner, had to close his shop located in a mall due to a rent issue. Luckily he had a branch in the city and was able to shift all his items there.
“It is not that you have to stop business activity due to the given situation, you have to save your commercial and municipality licence, and since you already have entered into a rent agreement with your landlord, it is not easy to vacate without clearing the pending rent,” Abdulaziz said.
He cited the OCCI’s intervention last year when the virus started spreading in the country and asked for some measure that can relieve small commercial tenants.
Yet another SME owner, who deals in frankincense, ‘bakhour’, perfume and Omani handicraft, complained of negligible footfall in his shop during the permissible business activity time. Yet, he has the obligation of paying full rent to the owner.
He admitted to have not paid rent for the last four months and expecting some negotiation with the landlord to get some relief. He, however, is not sure about the outcome.