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Fiji Times Suva, Fiji Islands

The fewer public holidays, the better.

Millions of dollars in production and revenue are wasted every year as factories close for a Government-enforced day of rest.

Factories and shops which are closed make no money. This in turn means they do not generate taxes with which to fill the State coffers. This is a simple approach. But that is the bare fact. No productivity means no money for a company to make a profit. That means there is less money for the company to spend on new machinery, expansion or staff salaries. And that, in turn, means a loss of possible investment.

The argument for fewer public holidays needs no further justification other than that it will allow greater productivity.

The whole nation needs this.

Public holidays cost close to F$14 million (US$ 6,041,000) in salaries and lost time. This is money which could be put to better use creating employment or removing the destitute from the streets.

It could be spent on the health service, schools or in the provision of piped water and electricity to the rural areas.

The Cabinet's decision to do away with Constitution Day, therefore, is based on a solid economic principle. Morally, it is also the correct stand. How can a nation celebrate a constitution which few people understand and even more have chosen not to follow?

The time spent on Constitution Day would be better put to use by Civil Servants informing the public of their rights and explaining what this document means. There is no sense in closing offices and factories for the sake of an extra day off.

Workers, by law, take their days off at the weekend or during their annual leave. This is rest enough. The Cabinet has boldly decided to do away with more public holidays in the next four years. It is a wise step which will not be received happily.

However, the time has come for the nation to make better use of time. That means holidays like the Queen's Birthday and National Youth Day serve no purpose. The sooner Cabinet decides to remove them from the gazetted list of closed holidays, the better it will be for business and the public.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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