Trade groups oppose add’l nonworking holidays
The Joint Foreign Chambers and Philippine business groups warned the Senate against adding more nonworking holidays (NWH) amid fears that the country was already losing out to competition with neighboring countries.
In a letter to Sen. Francis Escudero dated Feb. 22, some of the country’s biggest business groups voiced their concern amid congressional bills that would add more religious NWHs to the calendar.
Including local NWHs, the groups estimate that most companies would have 21 NWHs this year. This number does not yet include the NWHs that are currently being discussed in Congress.
This developed as Congress considered bills that would add more NWHs to the year, including proposals to have an NWH for the founding anniversary of Iglesia ni Cristo and an NWH for a National Bible Day, among others.
“With the recent enactment of the law declaring Dec. 8 of every year as [an] NWH to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the chambers and business groups are increasingly concerned that the high number of regular and special NWHs is damaging the competitiveness of the country,” the letter read.
Should the bills succeed in adding more NWHs, the Philippines would be put at a further disadvantage, especially given that the country’s main rivals for investments have fewer NWHs.
In particular, the groups cited Malaysia (14 NWHs), Thailand (17 NWHs), and Vietnam (12 NWHs)
To show the cost to business, the groups cited the case of the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry. The groups said that every NWH costs the industry P750 million in terms of extra expenses for overtime. —ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL
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