COVID-19 Closure Adds to Footwear and Garment Manufacturers’ Grief

COVID-19 Closure Adds to Footwear and Garment Manufacturers’ Grief

Amid the prolonging nationwide lockdown to curtail the spread of COVID=19 virus, Nepal’s footwear and textile industry have to grapple with heavy losses with no revenues in the days coming ahead. The unprecedented halt on manufacturing and production operations in the country has led to a massive crisis for shoemakers and garment industry as the sale of products has come to a standstill. 

The Footwear Manufacturers Association of Nepal has reportedly stated that the industry was facing losses of Rs 30-40 million every day due to the shutdown of production, along with the severe impact on the livelihood of thousands of sector’s workers. Already troubled Nepal’s garment industry has observed losses of approximately Rs 1.25 billion due to unforeseen closure, according to the Garment Association of Nepal. Moreover, there is chaos in the demand and supply chain as the doors of retails outlets remain shut for sale.

Unable to pay salaries to thousands of factory workers, the association resorted to seeking help from the government to provide some financial relief, as stated by its president Chandi Prasad Aryal. While some business owners were able to pay half salaries to their workers, much of labour left empty-handed as the funds dried off. 

Furthermore, a disruption in trading activities across the international market has led to further deterioration of the manufacturing industries in the Himalayan nation. Amid the difficulties in selling their existing stocks, clothing and footwear sector is consistently dealing with a dearth of raw material and labour as well. Notably, China is one of the major countries from where the Nepalese industries procure raw material. Now, in the aftermath of worldwide lockdown, worries are only increasing. In an attempt to mitigate the impact of business slowdown, several employees unions and associations are also working to provide financial assistance to businesses and workers during this trying time. 

Meanwhile, the Nepal government on Wednesday extended the lockdown for its 30 million people for the fourth time till May 18 in the wake of surging Coronavirus fear. Even as the lockdown has been extended, Finance and Information Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada addressed the media, stating that the government has decided to give some relaxations to few sectors including manufacturing and industries. 

Easing of restriction will be allowed with certain guidelines which will include monitoring the health of workers, sanitization at the workplace and strict social distancing. With the economy coming to a standstill due to virus closure, Nepal cut its economic growth forecast for the fiscal year ending mid-July to the lowest in four years. The Himalayan nation has recorded over 95 Coronavirus confirmed cases so far.

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