Chamber raise concerns over Govt’s ad-hoc holidays policy

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

1172 Hits

President Jennifer Ula-Fruean.

President Jennifer Ula-Fruean.

The Chamber of Commerce has raised its concerns about the number of ad-hoc public holidays in a letter to Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

Dated 22 May 2018, a copy of the letter signed by President, Jennifer Ula-Fruean, has been received by the Samoa Observer.

In it, Chamber members expressed their concerns on behalf of the private sector asking the government to consult with the business sector before making surprise decisions that cause financial loss to local private businesses.

“Businesses will face severe cash flow challenges due to the sudden removal of a trading day which they had not previously planned for; eliminating potential revenue for that day while the cost of staff wages and salaries remains,” the letter reads. 

“Businesses that do trade on that day are forced to continue with a trading day at higher cost per staff input (i.e. costs rise but productivity doesn’t).”

In particular, the S.C.C.I. was referring to the ad-hoc addition of an extra public holiday this Monday 4th June for the upcoming Independence celebrations which would bring the total number of public holidays for this year to 14 days.

The S.C.C.I. received the calendar from the government last year. They accepted and supported the original announcement of celebrations and planned accordingly expecting Independence Day celebrations to be held on Friday 1st June, While Monday 4th June remains as a normal working day.

Further, the Chamber expressed their concern with this sudden announcement just a few short weeks before Independence Day week and stated in the letter that they are unable to support the ad hoc addition of an extra public holiday. The letter reads,

“Chamber is therefore surprised to learn of the added public holiday recently announced." 

“Such ad hoc changes impacts significantly on the operational and financial planning of 1.We urge the Government to reconsider the added Public Holiday announced for Independence, and return to the original 1 day of Friday 1st June, making Monday 4th June 2018 a normal business working day.”

The Chamber’s recommendation to the government was to reconsider the added public holiday announced for Independence and return to the original day of Friday 1st June, making Monday 4th June 2018 a normal business working day. 

Furthermore they asked the government to not only consult with the Chamber in future decisions that will negatively impact their businesses but to also make sound decisions based on full proper and informed impacts on employers, their businesses, business activity, the economy and the community at large.

“We once again ask for a no-surprises approach that embraces both timely consultation as well as timely notification so that, as necessary, plans might be made.”

This is the letter in full:

 

Chamber Position on Public Holidays

Introduction

S.C.C.I. is the voice of business in Samoa, advocating on behalf of its extensive membership base which includes 3 industry-specific private sector organizations, and over 380 individual businesses. As such, Chamber values its role as a Partner of the Government, to advance business growth for the social and economic development of Samoa.  On behalf of our members, we continue to support Government initiatives, but do need to put forward positions from time to time, on areas that have specific impact business and the enabling business environment. It is with much respect that we submit this position, on the issue of public holidays.

Private Sector Concerns

The S.C.C.I. members will be impacted by the ad-hoc addition of an extra Public Holiday for the upcoming Independence celebrations.  The added holiday will bring the total of public holidays for this year to 14 days, and this will have grave impacts on all businesses, across all sectors in Samoa.

 

Specific Issues

1. Chamber members are unable to support the ad hoc addition of an extra public holiday for the upcoming Samoa Independence Day celebrations. 

2. Chamber members do believe in celebrating our political Independence, however, we support the original announcement of celebrations held on Friday 1st June, while Monday 4th June remains as a normal working day. These were the original public holiday dates announced, and the private sector have moved their planning forward in this regard. 

3. To that end, Chamber is grateful for M.C.I.L.’s published listing of Public Holidays. That list creates certainty and assists greatly with proper planning for our employers, employees and community groups.

4. Chamber is therefore surprised to learn of the added public holiday recently announced. Such ad-hoc changes impacts significantly on the operational and financial planning of businesses. We fear that the element of surprise also eliminates any certainty our members will have through the published public holiday list by M.C.I.L. 

5. Businesses will face severe cash flow challenges due to the sudden removal of a trading day which they had not previously planned for; eliminating potential revenue for that day while the cost of staff wages and salaries remains. Businesses that do trade on that day are forced to continue with a trading day at higher cost per staff input (i.e. costs rise but productivity doesn’t). 

 

Assessment of Samoa's Public Holidays

6. In M.C.I.L.’s published list of Public Holidays, eleven planned days are confirmed for Samoa which is on par with our neighbours. 

7. This year, there are 3 additional Public Holidays that are not included in the publicised list, being the State Funeral, an additional day for Easter, and an additional day for Independence.  After we factor in the ad hoc public holidays for Samoa, we will have had 3 additional Public Holidays before we even reach the halfway point of calendar year 2018. And there are still 4 scheduled Public Holidays left for 2018. 

8. Assuming that there are no further ad hoc Public Holidays in 2018 and, none of the scheduled public holidays are cancelled, then Samoa will end up having 14 Public Holidays in 2018.

9. This number of Public Holidays in any one calendar year will stifle productivity and places in jeopardy the investments of business owners, employers and investors. This in turn leaves the employment of staff at risk.

Recommendations:

1. We urge the Government to reconsider the added Public Holiday announced for Independence, and return to the original 1 day of Friday 1st June, making Monday 4th June 2018 a normal business working day.  

2. We value the relationship with Government as a partner for sustainable social development and economic growth, and we ask for sound decision-making based on full, proper and informed consideration of the impacts on employers, their businesses, business activity, the economy and the community at large.

3. We once again ask for a no-surprises approach that embraces both timely consultation as well as timely notification so that, as necessary, plans might be made. Ma le faaaloalo tele

 

Jennifer Ula-Fruean

President

© Samoa Observer 2016

Developed by Samoa Observer in Apia