Chairman of Villa Group and local politican, Gasim Ibrahim has stated that the salaries of employees at Villa Group had to be decreased due to the financial difficulties that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Villa Group is one of the companies that have most widely facilitated employment opportunities for locals. However, the salaries of those employed at the group were significantly reduced, with only a monthly wage of MVR 1,000 being paid to employees after that.
Speaking on local TV channel, RaajjeTV regarding the company’s financial status, Gasim said the company’s financial standing had taken a hit even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was due to the political pressure exerted on the company during former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s administration, said Gasim. While the group’s bank accounts were frozen for over two years, the company’s import license was also withheld by the previous administration, said Gasim. He noted that the moves were orchestrated by people who had developed professionally under him.
Gasim said although the Villa Group has valuable assets, it does not have any cash. Assserting that he had no funds hidden away in bank accounts, Gasim said there is no way to sell off assets during the current situation. Therefore, the company was forced to greatly reduce employee salaries, said Gasim.
Gasim said despite not having any funds to pay employee salaries, he wished to save their jobs even if it meant paying them a meager amount. No employees were laid off, and the company continuously negotiated with banks to figure out a way to pay the due salaries, said Gasim.
A loan of MVR 1.6 million has now been agreed to be extended by the State Bank of Ceylon, said Gasim, in a bid to assist with the recovery of the company amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the funds have not been received thus far, he said.
While a monthly expenditure of USD 3.2 million was incurred monthly [pre-pandemic] to pay wages and for other employee-related expenses, the company has been honest with its employees regarding its current financial standing, said Gasim.