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Pushback to ‘holiday economics’ centers on disadvantages for no-work, no-pay employees

PROPOSALS to enact a “holiday economics” measure will help prop up tourism as a pillar of the recovery, analysts said, but such a policy could be negative for employees who are not paid on days they do not work.

Percival K. Peña-Reyes, director of the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development, said that the proposed measure will provide a boost for the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The (possible) endemicity of COVID is going to help ease the mobility restrictions we had and that would welcome development especially for (the tourism sector), since we would have more tourists come in,” Mr. Peña-Reyes said by phone.

The practice of so-called “holiday economics” seeks to create long weekends, moving national holidays closer to Saturday or Sunday if necessary in order to stimulate travel and help tourism drive the recovery.

Mr. Peña-Reyes added that developing the industry will in turn attract more foreign visitors, creating a knock-on effect for exchange rates.

“We have a limited domestic market, so it would be very beneficial for us to get more revenue from outside,” he said.

Last week, House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene D. Brosas said that day laborers will earn less under such an arrangement.

“This will be a problem for workers who only receive their salaries on a daily basis because that would mean a deduction from their salary,” Ms. Brosas said.

Lawrence B. Dacuycuy, an economics professor at De La Salle University, said holiday economics can be billed as a “strategic move to promote spending and improve (worker’s) well-being.”

Mr. Dacuycuy called for creative and flexible ways to galvanize the economy. “We have to find ways to… outplace inflation in terms of economic growth,” he said via e-mail.

Mr. Peña-Reyes acknowledged the disadvantages to workers that are not in regular employment. “It would not be such a problem if you are formally employed because you are paid anyway (regardless of holidays). But those who might be in more precarious employment situations, (that would mean) no work, no pay for them,” he said.

Deputy Minority Leader France L. Castro added that moving the commemoration of a holiday from its actual date risks eroding the spirit of the holiday.

“We must value the actual date of a particular event in our history (and take this as an opportunity to) reflect the significance of those dates,” Ms. Castro of ACT Teacher’s Party-list said.

Mr. Dacuycuy countered that “If we’re able to instill patriotic or essential values in each of us, it really does not matter when a particular historical event or person is celebrated.”

“Of course, some of us focus on the special meaning of such events, while others would like a paid day off,” he added.

Mr. Dacuycuy said that “institutions need to undertake studies that will formally assess the contribution of such a measure to economic output.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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