Govt. urged to review daylight savings

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 28 September 2019, 10:00PM

Daylight Saving Time (D.S.T.) has not been shown to contribute to Samoa's economic growth and the Government should reconsider it, an Economist has argued.  

Former Opposition Member of Parliament, Luagalau Afualo Dr. Salele, made the comments as Samoa moves its clocks forward on Sunday for the ninth time since it was first introduced. 

But the Economist is not convinced that the time change brought about by the Daylight Saving Act of 2009 has benefited Samoa's economy. 

“It seems [impacts are mainly] from [the] social side – there is more leisure time for people,” he said. 

“Government did intend that daylight saving is for people to be productive in terms of economic activities (like going to plantation after work) but it seems like a reversal of that. 

“There is just more time for people to socialise and it defeats the whole purpose of why we had it in the first place.” 

The initiative, which was implemented by the Government in 2010, was initiated with the design of increasing economic growth, promoting public health, saving on fuel consumption and boosting leisure activities. 

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour in 2018 shows 55 per cent of the public are in favour of D.S.T..

“Their main reason for supporting this activity is due to the longer hours of the afternoon for guests to socialise in restaurants, more clients and also beneficial with extra time for sports activities," the research found. 

Of those who did not support D.S.T., the survey found that they were mainly concerned about workers being late, the safety of children, slow performance and lost productivity. 

In an earlier survey, conducted in 2011 a year after D.S.T.'s introduction, the Electric Power Corporation said that energy demand dropped by an average of four per cent from December 2010 to March 2011. Accordingly, fuel savings for the period amounted to 319,000 litres.

However, the survey noted that E.P.C. was cautious of attributing the estimated fuel saving to the D.S.T. policy due to “insufficient data”. 

“Much of the 40 percent ‘no energy saved’ respondents in the Ministry survey stated that their electricity soared from January 2011 when the school year started to get the school children prepared as it was still dark by 7 a.m," the survey noted. 

The latest survey from M.C.I.L. in 2018 did not include more recent data on energy savings. 

Luagalau has urged M.C.I.L. to review the policy and analyse its impact on labour productivity and the broader economy. 

He also voiced concerns over young children leaving home early for school and questioned whether daylight savings is a contributing factor to crimes involving young children, especially girls. 

The former M.P. said with or without daylight saving infrastructure developments will carry on and private sector business will continue to drive economic growth. 

He believes that while people may turn on their lights later in the evenings but people also turn on their lights early in the morning to get ready for work or prepare their children for school. 

“It still doesn’t change that consumers are still reliant on electricity and nowadays people rely a lot on electricity for convenience," he said. 

He added that the Government should learn from the experience of other countries that have done away with daylight savings. 

“I would rather see it reversed because it hasn’t shown any significant change if anything it has only accrued more costs than benefits,” he said.  

Most parts of Europe and North America observe D.S.T. while countries in Africa and Asia do not observe D.S.T., including those that are near the equator. 

Since D.S.T. schools and even some churches have changed time they start services.  

For example, before D.S.T. some churches started services at 8.30 a.m. but once D.S.T. is in effect the congregations change their ceremony time to 9.30 a.m. 

Luagalau pointed out this simply shows that the Government can change the official time but people are unable to readjust their biological clocks.

He reiterated the need for government to revisit D.S.T. and weigh out its pros and cons. 

Acting C.E.O. for M.C.I.L. was not immediately available for a comment when contacted. 

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 28 September 2019, 10:00PM

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