Like I would imagine, along with thousands of other small businesses we have spent the last four months trying to find creative ways of meeting our financial obligations, without any source of earned income. Where possible we have deferred actual payments to essential services by using credit cards, but there eventually remains a day of reckoning
Our bank has ceased to issue and mail printed statements, while at the same time making it almost impossible without additional cost, to produce them online. From the last physical document received, it shows interest rates of 22.5 per cent annually for purchases and a staggering 25 per cent for cash advances. Under the current dire economic circumstances and considering the miserly interest paid on deposits, this appears to be an almost obscene scenario, when in many cases the banks have dramatically reduced services offered while maintaining pre-Covid-19 monthly service fees.
In some cases certain banks have also unilaterally closed branches, forcing thousands of regular customers to travel to often inconvenient locations, only to be met by staffing levels clearly unable to cope with demand.
Should we reasonably expect more?
With the majority of our banks forced into accepting substantial ‘haircuts’, perhaps the Government feels they have no moral authority to intervene?
While the financial institutes may counter by stating they have deferred loan and overdraft payments, have interest rates been reduced to allow many small enterprises to even stand a chance of survival, let alone recovery?
In our own case, we are completely up-to-date with all Government dues payable by us, but are still owed tens of thousands of Dollars in outstanding VAT refunds dating back from February 2013. To compensate for this deficit we were forced to take a short term unsecured bank loan at 12.25 per cent annual interest. As and when and if we finally receive these monies, will the administration and its agencies add compensation to cover this added cost?
One thing for certain, is that with no immediate end in sight into anything approaching the return to normality of the restoration of airlift in terms of arrival numbers, we cannot simply rely on our overseas market to stop many small tourism players going out of business.
There still remains a substantial domestic market and while many will argue that this source is also under enormous fiscal pressure, it may currently be the only game in town. Once again, I make an passionate plea for Government to consider waiving some of the overbearing taxes levied on this industry, at least in the short term, so that when recovery is finally imaginable, we at least have sufficient players still in business.