The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce welcomed the announcement on the 8th April by the Government that the BEAT measures to assist businesses were being extended for a further three months until the end of June.
In the Government’s statement on 8th April there was no mention of measures relating to the extension of discounts for commercial rents. The Chamber sought clarification from the Government on this.
Before the Chamber issued its statement on Friday 9th April, the Government had confirmed verbally to the Chamber that existing rental discounts would also be extended for the second quarter. The Government has now said the following:
“The current rental discounts applied in March 2021 will be extended for one final time until the 30th April 2021. It is intended that with effect from the 1st May 2021 there will be no rental reductions applied to either properties owned by HMGOG or Private Landlords.”
All the measures announced by the Government on 8th April apply for the whole of the second quarter with the exception of discounts for commercial rents which only apply for the month of April.
As the Chamber recognised in its statement, members’ businesses across several sectors continue to struggle due to the severe effects of two lockdowns and very few tourists. For these reasons our members have not been able to rebuild their financial reserves over the last 12 months.
Whilst some local businesses have managed to show signs of improved trading in the last month or so, for many, business levels remain thin at best and there is little prospect of tourists returning in significant numbers until later on in the summer. Therefore every form of assistance, from subsidised wages to discounts on rents are critical to ensure that these businesses remain open and people’s jobs are retained until business conditions improve.
It makes no sense for Landlords to receive 100% of rent in a scenario where most affected businesses are operating with a turnover of 40% to 50% compared to like periods in previous years. It is only fair for the burden of the negative economic impact of this pandemic to be shared between the Landlord and the Tenant.
The Chamber of Commerce has engaged with Government on the issue of rental discounts and has made representations for these to be extended until 30th June in line with other BEAT measures.
The Chamber will continue to lobby Government for continued assistance for as long as is necessary, but not longer and we will keep members informed accordingly.
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