Business organizations in Nigeria have identified liquidity and the safety of their employees as priority business needs, as they grapple with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was part of the findings of a survey conducted by a multinational professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria.
The survey findings were disclosed during a recent webinar which was hosted by PwC, on the economic implications and policy response to Covid-19.
The survey had about 3000 respondents, ranging from managers to CEOs and business owners. When asked what their top business concerns were, 22.5% of them settled for liquidity, which is the availability of immediate cash to pay bills. This is especially important to them considering the disruption of business activities that have been experienced.
Meanwhile, 15.4% of the respondents identified the safety of their staff as a top priority. Note that this is a good indication that Nigerian businesses have a people-focused approach and are not just concerned about their profitability.
The third significant business concern identified was infrastructure for remote working. According to the survey, about 14.6% of the respondents stressed the need for access to electricity and internet connectivity.
While providing the results of the findings, Taiwo Oyedele, the Fiscal Policy Partner and West Africa Tax Lead at PwC Nigeria noted that 78.4% of businesses do not plan to lay off staff as a result of the crisis. Again, this is something optimistic. However, decisions to retain staff are often top management decisions and could mean that a good percentage of the respondents may not be privy to such plans by their organizations.
On the other hand, 21.6% of the respondents admitted that they will lay off staff due to the pandemic. Of this group, 55.3% do not think government intervention will influence their decisions on laying off staff. The rest, however, expressed their willingness to retain their employees if government intervention takes care of varying percentages of their staff wage bills.
As part of its societal impact, PwC has said it will provide free business continuity support services to small businesses employing between 5 to 50 employees who undertake to retain all their staff during this period.
On investments, 56.7% of the respondents said they will delay their investment decisions while 19.4% said they will invest less. This shows that the much-needed investment to stimulate growth will be greatly impacted.
Meanwhile, 23.8% and 43.9% of the respondents think that the government’s interventions have either been grossly inadequate or just inadequate respectively. About 17.5% of the respondents expressed indifference to what the government has done. Only 14.4% agree that the government’s intervention has met their expectations. This clearly shows that both the federal and state governments need to do more in terms of palliatives.
The top two areas that respondents believe the government’s intervention should be focused are:
- Tax relief (30%)
- Provision of loans at zero or low-interest rate (29.3%), and
- Cash transfer to the poor (16.9%).
Overall, the businesses surveyed agree that the private sector has a role to play in supporting the government’s fight against Covid-19. About 85.5% of the respondents suggested that they are best suited to provide support in the areas of relief items, equipment, and facilities. Only 10.7% indicated their willingness to donate cash to government.