Mr. Dan Witting
Partner, Baabuk Switzerland
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on us all and has caused a global problem, with rising number of cases each day and a potential threat to every business. Currently, everything has been halted and badly affected all the countries across the world. In this regards, it is no surprise that the pandemic hit hard in Switzerland too. To understand the impact of the current situation, how the governments are dealing with it and how the business environment is looking like in Switzerland, NEF spoke to Mr. Dan Witting, partner of Baabuk Switzerland and prepared a brief excerpt as below:
Designed in Switzerland, crafted in Nepal and Portugal, Baabuk is a Swiss brand that has been consistently making felt footwear since 2013.
Confinement in Nepal versus Switzerland
When Dan first heard about what had started to spread and how the confinement was beginning in Switzerland, he attributed the confinement as a positive response along with open communication from the Swiss government to its citizens. During an outbreak as deadly as coronavirus, the steps and leadership taken by the government leads the way for its citizens to cope with the situation. Thus, he believes that as citizens, everybody received a very humane and honest communication without the feeling of just another political action.
As there was no sign of the containment of the outbreak any sooner, and as the growing cases worldwide were becoming worrisome, Dan tried to pass the message to their employees in their workshop in Nepal. But, to his surprise, he heard about very little cases in Nepal and that the Nepalese government had not much communicated at this stage to prepare the population.
The complete lockdown in Nepal is much more severe than in Switzerland knowing that the number of communicated cases was very little. Given this, he thinks that the lockdown is a very wise decision for two reasons:
- The medical situation in Nepal is below the one in Europe and,
- The population has to be educated and disciplined to keep social distance.
Role of the government
All businesses have been negatively affected by the uncontrollable outbreak. Dan, thus, stressed that he would like to see more support from the Nepalese government by releasing funds to support the shut-down business.
In his view, citizens pay taxes and abide by all the government rules. So, now, it is time that the government gives back as this is the neediest time for everyone. Businesses like Baabuk and many thousands of other local business lack resources to keep the local employees paid without work. Without the support from the government, he believes that everyone will run into a global disaster, including themselves.
Contrastingly, he pointed out that the way the Swiss government helped was in two ways:
- By supporting technical unemployment with 80 % paid by the government.
- By giving a 10 % loan based on yearly revenue for small businesses with 0 % interest rate for 3-5 years.
These are decisions that he hopes will be proposed by the Government of Nepal.
As concerning and alarming the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic is, it is also a time for incredible learning. With this, Dan hopes that people learn to be responsible to pay taxes so that the government has enough budget that will further be used for all its citizens to rely on when needed.
The above Expert Speak edition is written by Mr. Dan Witting. He is a Partner at Baabuk Switzerland, company that makes handmade felt shoes in Nepal.