Walang pasok na naman. A five-day weekend will happen mid-November due to the ASEAN Summit. Christmas is fast approaching. Already 18 holidays have been declared for 2018. Many will use this time to take a break and detoxify from the daily grind.

While most of us rejoice having sudden no-work days, in reality, they do not have a net positive impact on the country’s economy. An article penned by Tony Renkin raised points that public holidays have a mixed impact business owners. They lead to increase in customers for some, while some lose on productive work hours. Here are a few ways no-work days are bad for all of us –

1.It slows down the economy

During public holidays, much of the country shuts down. For those trading in stocks, they will be unable to see any changes in their investments, nor will they be able to do any buying or selling.

Public holidays – or bank holidays – also mean that banks are not open. Gerardo P. Sicat, an economist, and columnist for The Manila Times mentioned the disruptive effects of excessive holidays in one column[1].

The country’s banks handle transactions that largely affect the economy. The transactions made by everyday individuals, locally and globally are all handled by the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Specifically, a system called PhilPass.

Transactions made every day are run through this system and distributed accordingly. Because PhilPass is run as any government office would, it shares the same office hours and holiday periods. Because this system is closed on holidays, large transactions are forced to wait. According to Sicat, the delay damages the country’s ability to catch up to global markets.

2. Workers and businesses are shortchanged

The Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) reported[2] that special non-working holidays impact a daily worker’s overall wage. This is because of the “no work, no pay” principle. Workers who are paid a daily wage lose their earnings due to the nature of the holiday.

A business loses the productivity on an otherwise normal day, while still paying for it. Conversely, businesses that force employees to work on holidays end up paying double for it, and more should overtime be a factor.

The number of holidays in the country are among the largest in the region. The Philippines has twelve regular holidays, with provisions for three special non-working holidays in a year. This does not take into account days declared as no-work days owing to inclement weather.

Those are also just the holidays that apply nationwide. Provincial, municipal, and city-based holidays increase the total number of annual holidays as well.

3. You spend more

Holidays are usually when friends and family can gather at each other’s homes or go out for the day. Not everybody has the disposable income to keep up with the cost of such activities during holidays. But because people also want to enjoy themselves, some choose to expose themselves to debt via credit cards just to ensure that they “make the most” of the break.

For those at lower income brackets, there is not enough disposable income to cover the cost of holiday spending. Add the fact that their daily wage becomes adversely affected by holidays, and you get the idea that holidays may be “anti-poor”, which the Department of Labor and Industry tries to combat.

Final Thoughts

Long weekends are attributed to Republic Act No. 9492, a now-10-year-old law passed to rationalize the celebration of holidays. Holidays closer to the weekend are moved to the nearest Monday. Moving holidays are to be declared by the President six months in advance.

The law allowed families to spend more time together, and to promote tourism in the country. Then-President Benigno Aquino III tried to repeal the law, citing the adverse effect that it had on foreign investment in the country. It did not succeed.

Hence, the economy suffers because foreign investment cannot access the market during these days. As a result, goods become more expensive and people are able to afford less. Government plays the largest role in making the change necessary. It will mean less long weekends for everyone, but it will also mean a more stable economy. What are your thoughts? Do you think we should have more Walang Pasok or less? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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