Opinion: Fantasy holidays

POSTED: 05/6/16 8:45 PM

With the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association, we do wonder about that last minute decision by the Council of Ministers to ditch the national holiday of Saturday, April 30 and to make Tuesday May 3 a national holiday instead.

What surprises most is the timing: the news became available only around 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 28.

Regeren is vooruitzien, is an old piece of Dutch wisdom. We knew like, forever, that April 30 would be a Saturday and we know for sure that civil servants hate this because Saturdays are already days off for them.

Therefore, the Council of Ministers could have looked at the calendar in, say, February, and made the arrangements. That would have given everyone plenty of time to adjust.

The questions that comes before such a decision is however this one. Who benefits from such a change and who is paying the price for it?

If 2,000 civil servants get an additional day off, 16,000 working hours have been lost. It does not affect their salaries, so in fact the tax payers are duped here. They get less service for the same amount of money government workers suck up every month.

On the other side of the scale is the private sector. Calling in workers on official holidays, means that these workers will have to be paid more. The private sector takes this in stride for the established national holidays like everyone else in the world, but the addition of a fantasy holiday upsets the applecart.

Will businesses now get a tax incentive to make up for the difference? Or do they have to find other ways to cover their losses?

These questions remain unanswered; worse, they have not even been contemplated.

For this time, the damage has been done. But the government ought to take a closer look at this issue and come up with a policy. Making these surprise national holidays an obligatory but unpaid day off for civil servants ought to be a part of it.

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