Businesses struggle as another outbreak hits

Monday, Aug 10, 2020 15:51

Iconic Hoi An Ancient Town largely empty, far removed from its usual scene bustling with tourists during this time of year. — VNA/VNS Photo

As another wave of COVID-19 hits the nation, many businesses are already on the verge of collapse.

Vu Tien Duc, CEO of a Ha Noi-based property rental firm, said he has seen income plummet as demand dropped sharply since the first outbreak of COVID-19 in March.

"Our income has dropped by as much as US$30,000 a month and I don't see it getting better any time soon," said Duc. "We have tried everything, from cutting down fixed costs, short-term investment to reducing prices."

Despite the heavy loses, Duc still counted his firm as one of the lucky few as many in the business have been forced to close due to lack of financial resources.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, CEO of a construction material company, faces another set of challenges. The pandemic has severely disrupted the regional production supply chain, on which his company relied.

"With many of our traditional markets suddenly closed up, we have lost about 80 per cent of our business and with it our income," said Vinh.

"The only silver lining for us was the country's success in containing the virus. We have had time to look for new suppliers and new buyers. Things have just started to look up," he said.

While a second wave has been forecast for some time, many businesses have not prepared or received help. Government support packages, which provide businesses with generous cuts on tax, fees and extended credit lines, have been out of reach for most due to a lack of guidance on how to access them.

Meanwhile, the business community has been calling on banks to relax on loan policies to allow firms more time to adjust and seek new markets.

"We are doing our best to find new businesses and to make sure we don't have to lay-off our workers," Vinh said.

Tourism has been hit especially hard during this second wave, which has taken place during traditional high season for travel and leisure.

Director of tour firm New World Travel Dang Thanh Tung said the industry has not been able to take advantage of numerous promotional campaigns by the airline and hotel industries as customers cancelled tours en masse, even to safer destinations such as Ha Long, Quang Binh, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc.

"It will be very difficult for domestic travel to gain momentum, especially now everyone is anxiously watching how the second wave unfolds," Tung said.

Maintaining a healthy cash flow has also been tricky as cash-strapped firms have found themselves in a position where they are unable to pay suppliers.

"Everybody has an excuse for not paying during a global pandemic," said Nguyen Thi Hoat, director of Top Travel, saying typically firms only collect 50-80 per cent of due payment when they sign contracts, the rest is supposed to come in within 5-10 days after the tours.

"Many of our partners have had to tighten the purse strings in anticipation of another outbreak," said Hoat. She said her firm had no choice but to delay payment to their suppliers or only pay them 20-50 per cent of the amount due. — VNS

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