Nearly 86% of companies reported a fall in their turnover in November 2020 in comparison with last year against 82.3% in July and 88% in April.
These are the findings of a survey about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the private sector in Tunisia (3rd phase) which was released Thursday by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
Despite a slight post-lockdown improvement, business activity was also disrupted. The survey was conducted last December, in collaboration with World Bank Group member, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
86.4% of businesses which continued to operate reported reduced liquidity and 79.5% saw demand fall. 54.9% said they faced difficulties in acceding financial services and 52.1% reported raw material supply challenges, while 48.9% suffered a decline in the number of hours worked.
Hotel, restaurant and café services worst hit
The telephone survey conducted with a sample of 2,500 private sector businesses revealed that 92.6% of enterprises operating in the accommodation and food services sector reported a decline in their revenues while 12.2% of firms in chemical industries and pharmaceuticals said their turnover posted a rise.
Micro-enterprises (86.1%) and small and medium-sized enterprises (81.3%) were more impacted than big businesses (63.8%).
Exporting businesses which reported a fall in their turnover were 77.7% in November in comparison with 93.2% in April.
In another connection, 37.1% of enterprises said there were no job changes against 44.7% in April and 39% in July. 25.9% of businesses laid off workers, 11.6% granted paid leaves and 9.8% provided unpaid leaves.
Wage cuts were an option for 15.7% of businesses, while 30.5% reduced working hours and 5.3% managed to hire.
Polled businesses said they are most in need of tax exemptions and reductions (37%), direct injections of liquidity (36.8%) and tax deferrals (24.1%).
Businesses which benefited from government measures grew from 9.6% in April to 21% in July before reaching 25.5% in November. 34.3% of enterprises that failed to have access to these measures said they filed applications to this end, 15.5% did not show any interest while 14.5% thought the process was complex.
Demand for digital solutions posted an upward trend with 12.7% of businesses embracing online activity in November against 9.3% in July.
Digital solutions were mainly designed towards facilitating remote working and carrying out administrative tasks, the survey revealed. Advanced technologies were adopted on a large scale in sales, marketing and means of payment.
The survey falls in line with the IFC’s Investment Climate program in Tunisia which has the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the European Union.
The second phase of the survey was conducted in September and October 2020.