President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the National Treasury to allocate Ksh2 billion to the tourism sector to cushion members of staff from the unprecedented effects of the novel Coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
The hospitality industry is one of the sectors that have been worst hit by the pandemic with hotels shutting down operations and sending employees home.
Speaking on Monday during the 57th Madaraka Day celebrations at State House, Nairobi, the Head of State said the funds will be distributed to support hotels and related establishments to ensure that they are able to maintain their staff compliments.
The President said the cabinet subcommittee will meet with stakeholders to develop a protocol on how the program will be implemented.
“I have noted with concern the fact that our hospitality sector that has been greatly hit as a result of lockdowns we have many our workers seemingly being laid off as a result of there being no business in all our hospitality facilities, ” said the Head of State adding that the government is committed to “jump-start” the economy through the 8-point Ksh 53.7 billion stimulus package recently announced.
“In order to cushion this workes and to work inline with this sector my administration will focus on intervention by offering an initial Ksh2 billion from the exchequer to support hotels and related establishments.”
Since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country in mid-March hotels in various parts of the country shut down and sent employees on unpaid leave with the hope of the pandemic ending soon.
As the pandemic continues to ravage the country with no end in sight, some resorted to fire employees due to lack of funds as operations remain suspended.
Last week, the management of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts resolved to shut down two of their establishments and fired all its employees citing harsh economic times.
Country General Manager Mehdi Morad, in a memo seen by this writer, said operations at Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Mara Safari Club have ceased. Morad also said recent flooding also informed the decision to close down.
“Due to the uncertainty of when and how the impact of the global pandemic will result in the business picking up in the near future, we are left with no option but to close down the business indefinitely,” wrote Morad.
“It is, therefore, the decision of the management to terminate the services of all its employees due to ‘frustration’ by way of mutual separation and taking into account the loyalty and dedication the employees have put into the success of our company in the previous years.”
Many Kenyans were alarmed and raised concerns on social media over the plight of the affected members of staff.
The government wrote to the company seeking answers on the mass sacking after the affected employees raised complaints through the office of the Attorney General.
In a letter to the management, Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto said the matter was “of profound public interest” and could affect many households.
“This matter is of public importance and great concern to the Government and in view of the Attorney General’s mandate to promote, protect and uphold the rule of law and defend the public interest, this Office should be very grateful if you would provide it with clarification regarding the said media reports and complaints from employees, including on the veracity thereof and the justification for the taking of such action, if this is the case,” a letter signed by Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto directed to the company read in part.
“As you would appreciate, such a decision, if taken, would have far-reaching implications on the well-being of many households and indeed, the Kenyan economy in general. This is therefore a matter of profound public interest, in respect of which this Office demands a response. We look forward to hearing from you, promptly.”