THE Philippines’ electronics and business process outsourcing industries reportedly shelled out $40 million in additional labor costs after Malacanang declared October 31 and November 7 as non-working holidays.
This was pointed out by researchers of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s biggest business organization, saying that the country has the highest number of holidays in Asia with 21 days this year.
President Benigno Aquino III declared 16 regular holidays last year.
The BPO and electronics industries have a combined work force of one million people, according to data gathered by the PCCI.
During a non-working holiday, these industries which operate 24 hours, seven days a week, are required to shell out an additional $20 million to cover extra pay of employees who are made to work on a holiday, the PCCI said.
Even during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who signed a law on rationalizing holidays, the business community had asked Malacanang to limit the number of holidays to only 16.
Last year, President Aquino made the same policy pronouncement by refusing to suspend work on a Monday following his father's death anniversary on August 21, which falls on a Saturday.
This year, however, he declared four new special holidays.
The Palace declared October 31 as a special non-working holiday to give Filipinos ample time to visit departed relatives and friends for “Undas” while November 7 was declared a regular holiday in observance of the Eid'l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice).
Too many holidays have harmed both sectors’ abilities to compete with neighboring countries that keep fewer non-working holidays.
Vietnam, for example, only has nine a year.
Also, the practice by the government of declaring holidays on short notice has hindered corporate planning, the PCCI said.
The business chamber suggested that this early, Malacanang should come out with a list of non-working holidays for the next two years and stop the practice of declaring new ones on short notice which only increases the cost of doing business. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)