Business losses: Papal visit's unintended consequences

MANILA, Philippines – More holidays, including the latest declared by government during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines, is costing the economy millions of revenue loss.

The electronics industry, for instance, will incur 30% higher labor cost, according to Arthur Tan, IMI president and CEO.

“The companies don’t shut down. They need to run. So they increase the cost by 30%,” he said.

Workers want to see the Pope

Special non-working holidays have been declared in Metro Manila on January 15, 16, and 19. But while many electronics manufacturers are based in Laguna, the arrival of the Catholic Church’s reigning leader comes with a price.

“Those who want to see the Pope will take leaves,” Danilo Lachica, president of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI) told Rappler on Saturday, January 10.

Non-working holidays cost the electronics industry P1.2 billion ($26.70 million*) per day, according a 2014 study conducted by the Makati Business Club (MBC), which cited figures from SEIPI.

Last year, the industry lost P24 billion ($533.93 million) for the 20 holidays, the MBC said.

“The losses are a significant factor, given that the electronics industry generates over 1.89 million direct and indirect jobs, as well as accounts for over 40% of the country’s exports,” it added.

'Stock market affected, too'

Hans Sicat, president and CEO of the Philippine Stock Exchange, urged government to stop adding holidays as lesser trading days "cost a lot of logistical problems."

He said Malacañang’s idea to declare a holiday when the Vatican City's head of state visits the Philippines, does not make a good argument.

"Do you declare a national holiday if the President of the United States visits the country? Probably not," Sicat told Rappler in a phone interview Sunday, January 11.

The holiday suspends clearing operations at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). But Sicat said the BSP has agreed to turn on the clearing system on January 19.

 

Hans explained why the government should stop adding holidays: a closed Central Bank is equal to P14 million ($311,457.17) lost in government taxes collected from the daily trading at the capital market.

"We are an emerging market, we should be working a lot harder," he said. – Rappler.com

*$1=P44.95