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Government set to slash holidays

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A villager rides a buffalo during the Pchum Ben festival, the festival of death, in Khsach Kandal district’s Vihear Suor village, Kandal province in 2016. AFP

Government set to slash holidays

The private sector has welcomed the government’s move to reduce the number of public holidays in the in the Kingdom – known for having the most public holidays in the world – by seven days.

However, the government had just added the “Day of Remembrance” on May 20, last year, which brings the country’s total number of public holidays to 28 days.

As Cambodia has labour potential, a reduction in the number of public holidays is key to promoting productivity and reducing production costs, said Eang Mong, the managing director of local cracker producer, Ly Ly Food Industry Co Ltd.

“This is what we want and it is very helpful for us to increase productivity. We are producers . . . and a reduction in holidays will help boost our productivity to supply market demand and add more value to production,” he said.

He said more public holidays will add more production costs which pose challenges for market competitiveness.

“If production quantity drops, the more costs will rise and then we need to pay extra costs for workers on holiday to speed up production, which presents another cost."

“We have so many holidays, the government should deduct some that are unnecessary. It will be beneficial for all sectors but would not make workers very happy,” he said.

Holidays around the world

The Post previously reported that 2015 Indian media reports claimed that the Kingdom had the most public holidays at 21, while other reports suggested Sri Lanka held the top spot with 25.

The average number of holidays for countries in the G20 – the 20 nations that account for 80 per cent of world trade – is 12. As for Cambodia’s neighbours, Thailand has 20 public holidays this year, while Vietnam has 12 and Laos has 10.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said though the Kingdom’s industry faced competitiveness and the high cost of production, more public holidays are not a good sign for economic growth.

“Compared to Vietnam and Thailand – our neighbours who are competitive in business – we still have more holidays. How can we increase our productivity to compete with them? It is also a challenge to attract more investors to the country,” she said.

Emerging Markets Consulting senior consultant Ngeth Chou said deducting the number of public holidays is something investors have long argued for, complaining about Cambodia’s persistently high energy and logistics costs compared to other countries in the region.

“The private sector has always asked for the policy from the government to help reduce the cost of production. We are the kingdom of intense labour, which has the potential to increase the scale of productivity."

“A reduction in the number of holidays will help increase the production chain. It is essential to reduce production costs and generate more money for the country,” he said.

Minister of Industry and Handicraft Cham Prasidh said the sub-decree for deducting seven days will be issued at the end of this month in order to increase productivity and promote competitiveness, the Bangkok Post said.

However, the ministry’s spokesman Oum Sotha told The Post: “I haven’t seen any new request from the Ministry of [Industry and] Handicraft to [reduce] public holidays.”

He said the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals would be the authority in charge of the draft of the sub-decree, and not the ministry.

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