Durban’s ICC battered by Covid-19 fallout seeks R30m in financial aid from council
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DURBAN - THE Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) is the latest entity in the eThekwini Municipality to approach the council to ask for financial assistance after its business was battered by Covid-19.
The entity, which is considered one of the best-run in the city, needs R30 million in financial aid. The ICC’s management told councillors during a special executive committee meeting yesterday that it was using its financial reserves to sustain its operations.
Its core business of hosting events had been negatively affected after a ban on large gatherings since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
It said that while it still had reserves, it would appreciate assistance from the shareholder. Providing assistance to the ICC was supported by all parties, who said its case was genuine.
In its presentation, the entity said it had been seriously affected by Covid-19 and was expected to record an operating loss of R67.1m. It said that while it had been able to sustain itself, it required assistance from the municipality.
“The entity has been able to sustain itself since the lockdown by utilising its cash reserves earmarked for capital improvements. The entity is requesting a grant of R30m to offset some of the loses incurred,” it said.
It also proposed a number of measures aimed at stabilising its finances, including deferring its utility bills until business improved, and seconding excess staff to the municipality.
“It is noted that the entity is utilising its cash reserves to ensure it remains afloat. It is noted that the entity is currently paying in excess of R13m towards utility charges and rates,” said the report.
The municipality said it had considered the funding request and resolved that R5m would be provided in the current financial year to offset some of the utility charges, and R15m in the form of a grant be provided in the 2021/22 financial year. The balance of R10m would be considered during the 2021/22 midterm to see whether any savings could be redirected to the entity.
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said the party supported giving the ICC assistance. “The ICC is a well-run institution. Even at this point they have not run out of money, they are functioning with money from their reserves, but that is obviously not good for their business.
“We support giving them money, they are unable to hold conferences and that is a genuine problem. When they complain about the impact that Covid19 has had on them, their concerns are genuine,” he said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said there was no reason not to support the bailout. “It’s not surprising that they need assistance, they have not hosted any events. We must also consider that they have staff who we would not like to see retrenched.”
He said there were many other businesses such as hotels that have been forced to close, and their staff had been left destitute.
“If the municipality has the means, it must assist,” he said.