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More than half of large Kenyan companies retaining workers despite virus fears-KEPSA

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – More than half of Kenyan large companies in Kenya- 58pc – say they will retain their employees, at a time when businesses continue to witness dimmed profits due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

A report by the Kenya Private sector Alliance (KEPSA) reveals that many of these employers opted to keep their employees despite the economic challenges witnessed in the country owing to the pandemic.

At the same time, 55 percent of the medium-sized companies have also taken the job retention route with only 34 percent reporting to have laid off more than 50 people. Most of these companies are in the Agricultural sector, which was has been among the most affected particularly horticulture due to export logistics challenges.  

The survey, which was conducted in April, comes after Pesident Uhuru Kenyatta’s warning on Labor Day that more than half a million jobs will be lost in the next six months should the coronavirus pandemic persist.

“We cannot relax in our efforts to conquer this invisible enemy and to put our economy on a strong growth path. Because, if we do not, we could lose upwards of half a million jobs over the next 6 months.  We must do whatever it takes to minimize, if not to fully contain such loss in jobs,” Uhuru said on May 1st.

A report tabled before a Parliamentary committee on April 28th indicated that 133,657 people, mainly in the formal sector have been rendered jobless.

The tourism and education sectors have received the most of the virus, with 95 percent and 93 percent of them respectively reporting high to very high impact due to the closures imposed to limit the spread of the virus.

This is after movement of persons was limited globally to curb the spread of the disease where the sector players have projected losses worth billions.

The sports, arts, creative and agricultural sectors have also reported significant impacts due to the limits on social gatherings, the cessation of movement and the imposition of the dawn to dusk curfew, now headed towards 42 days.

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Spared sectors

The report reveals the finance, health and social work, and environment, water and waste firms to be the least impacted by the virus.

Slightly less than half of businesses have had to close as part of their measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, with micro and small enterprises most affected.

The survey revealed that most businesses would like financial support from the Government in form of grants or cheap accessible loans to help them pay salaries.

The businesses are also seeking a reduction of taxes or waivers, deferment of tax payments, business licenses, and other statutory deductions, government to intervene to ensure banks restructure repayment of bank loans, rent and utility bills.

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