Too many holidays?

2008-04-25 00:00

1. Short week: A multi-billion rand blow

Saddled with three public holidays this week, the already fragile economy will receive yet another blow — to the tune of several billion rand — as the result of the shorter working week.

In addition, the blow to the economy is likely to intensify as many employees have sought to extend their time off by securing leave on Tuesday and Wednesday in addition to Monday, Thursday and Friday, which are public holidays.

Efficient Group economist Doret Els told Weekend Witness that South Africa stands to lose between R1 billion and R2 billion per day.

2. Manufacturing hit

"More sectors, specifically manufacturing [16% of the economy] and finance [19,5%] might directly be impacted by the extra holiday time," she said.

Sello Mosai, an executive manager at Productivity SA, told Weekend Witness that business owners and managers involved in manufacturing who are caught off guard will struggle to meet order deadlines.

He added that the mining sector may also suffer a similar fate.

But retail, wholesale, hotels and restaurants — which make up 14% of South Africa’s economy — will escape relatively unscathed.

In fact, these sectors may actually be supported by holiday-makers, said Els.

3. Business planning is key

"Although it’s a big amount, its impact will be limited because business will try to make up for lost production," said Els.

Mosai stressed that business owners and managers should have made plans to mitigate the impact of the shorter working week.

He said businesses have had a long time to prepare for this period.

In addition, he argued that business owners and managers would have been able to exert strong control over the amount of "extra" leave granted during this week.

4. SA versus the rest of the world

Although difficult to determine, it is fair to say that South Africa — with 13 public holidays this year — falls within the band of countries with an average (but not excessive) number of public holidays. South Africa compares favourably with countries like Brazil (12), Argentina (15), Portugal (14) and Japan (14).

In Sri Lanka, it is estimated that there are a whopping 26 public holidays per year.

5. Electricity

Els noted that although South Africa should focus on increasing productivity, there are other matters that need more urgent attention.

"The electricity crisis … could slash around R20 billion off of GDP over a year in real terms — and therefore severely hamper economic growth."

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