Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Bahamas and the Case for Another National Holiday... ...the addition of Majority Rule Day... ...

By:Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services
May 7, 2013

Bahamas Would Not Be Out Of Sync With 11 National Holidays

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said based on random surveys of other nations, with 11 national holidays including the addition of Majority Rule Day, The Bahamas will not be out of sync with international norms.

The Prime Minister set out to prove that the concern about the aggregate number of public holidays in The Bahamas is “greatly exaggerated” as he wrapped up the debate on the Majority Rule Day Bill in House of Assembly, Monday, May 6, 2013.

“At present, we observe 10 national or public holidays in The Bahamas. The addition of Majority Rule Day will bring this number to 11. How does this compare with other countries?”

Prime Minister Christie said, “As a comparative frame of reference, the following should be noted:

In the U.S. there are 11 federal public holidays (one of these, it should be noted, is observed quadrennially (the others being observed annually).”

He explained that in Barbados, they also have 11 public holidays. (Of particular interest, Barbados has both a National Heroes Day and an Errol Barrow Day observed as separate national holidays).

“In Trinidad, they have as many as 14 national holidays.

“In the United Kingdom, the position varies: England has eight ‘bank’ holidays, as they are called, but Scotland and Northern Island which are integral parts of the United Kingdom have nine and 10 public holidays, respectively.”

He said in Bermuda, a colonial territory with whom The Bahamas has a great deal in common, both in terms of historical ties and basic economic configuration (tourism and financial services), there are 10 public holidays.

In the Cayman Islands, another colonial territory with which The Bahamas has certain economic similarities, they have 12 public holidays.

The Prime Minister explained that in continental Europe, in France, they have 12 public holidays.

“In Switzerland, a country that we have a lot to do with in terms of our financial services industry, holidays are set not by the federal government but by the 26 individual cantons into which the country is divided.

“Interestingly, however, for a country that justifiably prides itself on its work ethic, 17 of the 26 cantons have public holidays of 10 or more. In fact, there are some cantons in Switzerland that have as many as 14 to 15 public holidays every year.

“Indeed whether one looks at it intra-regionally, hemispherically, or globally, we will remain very much in line with the norms of developed and developing countries alike.”

Prime Minister Christie said he is aware that employers are concerned that additional holidays may translate into additional measurable financial losses during a time when many businesses are facing during difficult times as many countries are facing recessions and they want to ensure maximum productivity from workers.

“However, that is not an argument against making Majority Rule Day a public holiday. Rather it is, I would submit, an argument – and a perfectly legitimate argument - that perhaps the time has come for national bi-partisan consensus that the total number of public holidays should not increase beyond the total number that will come about when Majority Rule is added to the list.”

He added, “In other words the time has perhaps come for us to agree that after this addition of Majority Rule Day, no more holidays will be added in the future unless an existing holiday is eliminated. That way, the total number would remain stable for the indefinite future.”

Bahamas Gov