COVID-19 Fight: Ruparelia Group Issues SoPs At All Buildings, Asks Gov’t To Bail Out Landlords With Tax Waivers

As a way of resuming business amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, the Ruparelia Group of Companies, which is owned by Kampala magnate Sudhir Ruparelia, has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) to all tenants occupying their buildings around Kampala.

Rajiv Ruparelia, who is son of tycoon Sudhir, revealed the new SoPs on Friday June 26, 2020, at a press conference, during which he noted that although they have put in place measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, government has to intervene, such that in case landlords waive rent arrears, the Uganda Revenue Authority and utility providers should also give landlords a tax holiday.

Rajiv said that; “COVID-19 is not going to disappear soon. So the question is how do we operate within its framework? And the measures we have put in place are quite simple. We have already ordered for many hand wash stations. That will be placed at every entrance of the building. These hand wash basins are not going to be operated with tour hands but a foot pump. So you don’t have contact with the opening and closing of the water. They will be automatic sprays that you put your hands under and the soap will come under. So you will be able to ensure that very bacteria on your hands is killed and neutralized.”

He added that “We will also ensure that we don’t open all the entrances and exits for our buildings. What we will do is actually that we will control the entrance and exit points. We will set up check points where you wash your hands, where temperature checks are done and we will deploy more security personnel, to ensure that everybody is checked before entrance or exiting the building.
Further to that, they will ensure that everybody wears a face mask and everyone observes the social distancing and we control the number of people in the arcade at any one time.”

He also noted that they will work hand in hand with their tenants to ensure that this is all observed and followed religiously because it is in our interest as landlords and tenant to start opening up the buildings so that the survival of the tenants can start.
“They can start supporting their families again, because they have been closed for the last four months and they have no other source of income, which is going to create a bigger threat to us and to the economy at large.”

Commenting about the payment of rent arrears from tenants for months they spent not working as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, Rajiv said that;
“You we are one big family. A building is useless without tenants. However, tenants can’t operate without s building. So we are like a marriage and this marriage is very intimate. But unfortunately, government has not given any waivers to this industry. If you look at it, URA has only deferred their payments. They have not said that this year we are going to give special considerations where we are going to write off taxes for companies. Of you look at NSSF, they have not given any conditions where companies can reduce the liabilities to pay NSSF. All they are saying is that if you’re not going to pay in February or March pay in August. But that is not solving a problem as an economy or for landlords. Now even the Central Bank has given some ease to the commercial banks and but does not tell the banks that we have given some special liquidity in order to be able to subsidize the interest that you will face because landlords cannot pay the banks. You see, when the tenant pays the landlord, the landlord takes the money and pays the bank.”

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