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Grant: Economic cost if public holiday introduced

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: May 07, 2013

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East Grand Bahama Member of Parliament Neko Grant has warned that the introduction of an additional public holiday will have repercussions on the business community and will likely drive costs up for consumers.

His warning came yesterday morning as debate continued in the House of Assembly on a bill to designate Majority Rule Day as a public holiday.

The former minister of works suggested that the government eliminate an existing holiday before any new holiday is introduced.

"An additional holiday will result in additional costs to the business community," he said in the House.

"The majority of businesses will find a way to pass the cost onto their consumers.

"If we are going to add a holiday to our calender we need to eliminate one.”

The Bahamas currently recognizes 10 holidays including New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, Labour Day, Independence Day, Emancipation Day, Columbus Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Grant said the number of holidays should remain at 10.

During his contribution, he pointed to a report which noted that the Portugal government eliminated four holidays in order to save money and increase productivity.  He added that several other countries are considering making a similar move.

Grant said he supports the move to make Majority Rule Day a national holiday as it is a significant day in the lives of Bahamians.

However, he said the decision will have far reaching effects.

St. Anne’s Member of Parliament Hubert Chipman also underscored the negative impact that another holiday would have on the economy.

He said an additional holiday would result in spending losses.  As an example, Chipman said companies which serve breakfast or lunch to persons working for a business which would likely be closed on the holiday would experience profit losses.

Chipman said the government must consider how the holiday will affect businesses.

But, Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells said it would be difficult to eliminate an existing holiday as all of them are significant in their own right.

Opposition MP Theo Neilly suggested that the government eliminate the Whit Monday holiday.

However, during her contribution to the debate yesterday, Sea Breeze MP Hope Strachan said that suggestion is "absolutely ridiculous".

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