With the pandemic outbreak, COVID-19 has taken its tolls on lives, economies, and of course the workforce worldwide. It is perceived as another great depression, worse than the 2008 economic crisis as the IMF puts it. Its effects continue to jeopardize businesses globally. 

As we all are in a wait-and-see mode here in Egypt, Invest-Gate sat for a quick talk with Head of the Real Estate Development Chamber Mr. Tarek Shoukry to discuss the market status during this outbreak and explore the role of the chamber to overcome the crisis. 

We urge real estate developing companies to proceed with their projects, emphasizing the importance of serious precautionary measures to protect employees, Shoukry opens up. 

 

To what extent has this pandemic affected the real estate sector until now?

Like all other sectors, definitely, this pandemic has negatively affected the market. But luckily the dynamics of how this sector functions will quickly overcome any effects. This sector reserves its value on its own so if there is no buying and selling now, there will be later-on with a higher value. Meaning, if someone was opting for a purchase now but postponed it given the coronavirus, they will likely return in the near future when this is over to proceed with their purchase. The value of the unit will not be affected. There is of course fear and worry but it will never risk the market activity in the long run. There will always be an appetite for real estate but patience is required now until this global crisis is contained. I believe the real estate will continue in attracting more customers.

How is the chamber dealing with the effect of COVID-19 on this sector? 

During our online meeting last week, we all agreed that nothing should be on halt. Work should proceed normally but while taking all precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all workers and employees during this time. We established a balance between taking serious measures and continuing with all work plans not to jeopardize this market and the business development within this sector. Mind you this is how it is dealt with globally and not just here in Egypt. 

How does the chamber protect workers’ rights at the time being? 

Well, the workforce is to be kept as it was before. No one is to be laid-off under any circumstances. We sent out to the private sector as well, urging them to protect their workers and save their jobs. At the moment, the chamber is gathering data on the number and status of all workers in all projects. This then is to be sent to the government for an analysis, to make sure that jobs are saved, and to identify those who need financial support during this time. 

How did the private sector respond to such recommendations? 

The private sector is faced with serious challenges now, yet all are complying with our decisions. All are eager to protect their employees’ rights. No one is mistreated or being laid-off. We haven’t received any complaints from workers. I assure you that if we do get complaints, it is the chamber’s duty to investigate the matter. It is a very serious situation we are all in but it should never set us backwards. We must all work past this and foresee for future development even if it will cost us some pressure now.