EDITORIAL: Too Many Public Holidays
The government announced earlier this week that Monday, December 27, 2004 and Monday January 3, 2005m have been declared as public holidays.
Traditionally, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day are public holidays.
But on this occasion, because they fall on weekends, Government has given Ghanaian workers an extra rest day on the following Mondays.
In all, sixteen days that could have been spent productively in the agenda to accelerate the nation's development is rather being spent coasting on inactivity.
However hard data is yet to be acquired on any estimated cost to the nation of some of these public holidays.
What many people find troubling is the fact that even when the calendar blesses the nation with events such as Independence Day, Labour Day and New Year's Day fall on a weekend, Government rather than taking advantage of that to keep the production line rolling makes the following Monday a bank holiday.
But it had not always been this way at least, not until June 1, 2001.
In 1995 the NDC government passed a Public Holiday (Amendment) Act (Act 507), which was to amend the Public Holidays Law, 1988 (PNDCL 220) in two areas:
The first was by the repeal of a section of the law which at the time permitted the declaration of the next working day as a public holiday when a specified statutory public holiday fall on a non-working day.
The government at the time reasoned thus: “ This is considered a luxury which the country can ill-afford and its removal should help boost productivity in the country”.
Ironically, this was the same amendment bill which inserted extra statutory public holidays in respect of Muslims festivities- namely Ed-Al-Fitr in December.
Col E.M Osei-Owusu (rtd), Minister for the Interior at the time rightly argued that considering the large Muslims Communities that we have in this country, the government finds it appropriate that, just as Christian festivities are marked by some holidays, there should also be a day at least to mark Muslim festivities”
Yet the Public Holidays Act further revised the first aspect of the 1995 amendments, 2001 effectively taking the nation back to the pre-1995 order and beyond.
Section 2 of Act 601 which came into force in June 1, 2001 stated that in addition to the eleven public holidays existing at the time the president may, in the public interest, by executive instrument declare any other day to be a public holiday”.
Thus May 25 has since been declared Africa Union Day in recognition of the AU, which is aimed to get Africa, working. This year alone 15 national holidays were observed.
Section 3 of Act 601 gave the President the power to declare any other day to be observed as a public holiday instead, where the President is satisfied that it would be expedient for any statutory public holiday to be observed on the specified day”.
The inexpediency” referred to has since manifest to mean the holiday falling on a non working day.