New public holiday ‘a burden’
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Oct 15, 2013
Prominent figures in the business community say that adding another public holiday will only hurt the economy. In fact, one businessman described it as a “jook” in the heart of the business community and the economy.
On Friday, Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes signed off on the Majority Rule Act, proclaiming January 10 a public holiday that will be recognized as Majority Rule Day. It’s a decision that is not sitting well with some of the country’s leading businessmen who say there are enough public holidays in a calendar year.
Superwash’s President Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business that he is not in agreement with the Majority Rule Day holiday and accused the government of being obsessed with “unimportant” issues like creating extra public holidays. He also called them “very business unfriendly”.
“The economy is in trouble, and they don’t seem to be focused on that. The mood in the business community is not good and not getting better. Why do we need this now? You’re talking about a VAT [and] you just increased all of the fees and duties on businesses. Then you’re adding another public holiday, and you’re wondering why the economy is not doing well.
“The thing that you make work is the business community. They should be figuring out how we can make it attractive for people to do business in The Bahamas,” said D’Aguilar.
“In an economy that’s already deteriorating, you are going to add another public holiday? Get real. The government is completely out to lunch when it comes to dealing with the economy. Get a businessman around the table and ask him what it is that we have to do to turn this economy around.”
Rick Lowe, director of operations at Nassau Motor Company, said not only will this new holiday impact businesses, but taxpayers as well. He called it another “burden”.
“Obviously, it will impact business because you have to pay more for less efficiency. It impacts the bottom line. It impacts customer service as well because you can’t provide service on that day. While it might be nice politically, politicians don’t often think about the economic lifeblood of the country, of the businesses and the people that they tax. This is another burden to the taxpayer,” he said to Guardian Business.
“Where does it end? It’s great to provide a holiday, but the government also has to pay. It also costs the government, and there again by
extension, the taxpayer who has to pay more because there are services that the government provides that don’t shut down on a public holiday and they have to pay time-and-a-half. So it increases the cost of everything, so then VAT might have to be 17 percent instead of 15.”
Yesterday, the country celebrated its last Discovery Day. On Friday, the governor general signed legislation designating the second Monday in October as National Heroes Day, phasing out the Discovery Day holiday.
As of next year, The Bahamas will observe, including the upcoming Majority Rule Day, 11 public holidays in a calendar year.