National, News

Businesses dwindle as pockets run dry


By Charles K Mark


Businesses in Juba are struggling to stay afloat as customer pockets run dry after the heavy spending during the festive season.

As the wallets and banks recover from the holiday spending, the aftershock is causing a wave effect that is being strongly felt by businesses.

January has historically been a bad month for businesses as consumer spending tends to dwindle after the festive season.

Retailers and other small-scale business owners said they are witnessing a decline in customer traffic, as individuals tighten their belts and prioritize essential expenditures.

A businesswoman at Libya Market, Mutesi Norah, sells clothes and children’s shoes.

Mutesi said during the festive season she was receiving customers from all walks of life but things have changed now.

“In December I could get at least 10 customers and above in a day and when I go home, I see that I have made money at the end of the day. But now If I manage to get three (3) it is a miracle and I have to thank God,” she exclaimed.

The trader explained that the situation seemed a tough one since at the end of the month she had to pay the shop rent and home.

The speaker believes that people are not purchasing products due to their high costs and financial constraints.

“Let the government pay salaries. Every time government pays salaries and people have cash in their pockets they buy even if things are expensive, but now there is no money,” Mutesi said.

Mary Aba, another businesswoman owns a local restaurant at Suk Melisia.

Aba believes that her products are not being purchased due to their high cost and financial constraints.

She complained that the market prices are so high that making profits in her endeavors has now become a dream.

“Market prices are excessively high. And when you also increase food, customers will not come back. They will run away. Our customers are nowadays not regular. Today you see them and tomorrow they don’t come,” she said.

She further added that the city council imposes many sorts of taxations and yet they do not render services.

“Now this city council, they collect all kinds of taxes but you don’t see their services. They ask money for garbage but there is never a day, they will collect the garbage, but they will not forget to collect the money,” Aba wondered.

For his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ANASU Fumigation Company, Agele Kennedy Joseph also known as AKJ said he suffered from a lack of planning in his company last year.

“I had capital but I did not plan well so I ended up not achieving what I had wanted to achieve,” Agele said.

The Entrepreneur said instead of focusing on the January challenges that most business people complain about, he will focus on planning.

“Things I did not achieve last year; I must include them in this year’s plan. Business is like marriage. You promise to pay a visit to in-laws and something happens and you do not give up. You plan for another time,” he said.

The CEO stated that his company is currently operating at a breakeven point due to the fluctuating market prices.

“There are three levels at which businesses operate; a shutdown point, a breakeven point, and a profit maximizing point. Now we are operating at no loss but also no profit-making,” Agele stated.

Agele said he now plans to diversify his business to be able to catch up with different seasons and to be able to overcome the challenges of breakdown.

Another entrepreneur, Tereka Emmanuel, country manager of Telecom Logistics blames the situation on over-taxation.

He said currently he pays 300 percent taxes to the government instead of the previous 90 percent.

“And because it’s a free market system, the traders are not much affected but the consumers. If you increase taxes on importers, they will simply increase their prices and the consumer will face it,” he said.

Tereka elaborated on the impact of the lack of universal law that can apprehend corrupt officials whose acts worsen the situation of business operations in the country.

“Laws are technically written for the poor. They only favor a group of people,” the businessman decried.

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