The Business Rescue Task Force which in June was appointed by President Hage Geingob to investigate challenges and problems facing the business community has today met with the northern business community at the town of Ongwediva.

During a three-hour engagement which was attended by close to seventy business people the items on the agenda was the presentation from the Business Rescue Task Force of their “Interim Report” by Ms Amalia Schmidt who is a member of the Task Force but also a businesswoman based in Ongwediva.

The second item was the presentations on how to qualify and apply for the N$500 million Covid-19 Relief Loan as provided by Government and disbursed through the commercial banks.

Of the four banks which are part of the Covid-19 Relief Loan programme only Bank Windhoek and First National Bank sent representatives to do presentations. Standard Bank did not turn up, while Nedbank had earlier informed the organisers that they would not make it to the meeting.

“This [interim report] is what the Business Rescue Task Force has been working on since July this year,” Schmidt said. “But it still needs your input and improvement before it may be finally presented to the Head of State by end of March next year.”

Schmidt said further that the Business Rescue Task Force’s mandate is to investigate and define and seek solutions to the problems and challenges facing the business sector.

“We all know that it is no longer business as usual over the last two years. Jobs have been lost and livelihoods are under threat. We have to put our heads together to see what we can do to contain this bleeding.”

It was during the presentations on the Covid-19 Relief Loan scheme that many of the business people in attendance started to feel disappointment by the “relief” which proved to be no relief at all as one participant termed it as the Government’s attempt to “put fuel in a car without an engine”.

Both the representatives of Bank Windhoek and First National Bank admitted that there has been little interest by the business community in applying for the N$500 million Covid-19 Relief Loan.

“As business people we need the loans,” one participant said. “But if you are not changing the requirements, we will not come to you.”

In response Ms Frieda Beukes, the manager of Bank Windhoek at Oshakati, said that they have already communicated with the relevant stakeholders about the need for the stringent requirements to be revisited.

In the photo: Close to 70 business people assembled in the Ongwediva Trade Fair Centre hall listening to the presentation by the Business Rescue Task Force which was represented by Ms Amalia Schmidt.