The prospect of an additional public holiday may be something to get excited about for many South Africans, but the country’s economy simply cannot afford it.
Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa will most likely announce on Monday evening whether South Africans will get an additional public holiday this year thanks to the Springboks’ record victory in the Rugby World Cup.
According to Riaan Grobler, head of advisory services at Everest Wealth, an additional public holiday to celebrate the Springboks’ remarkable performance will obviously be of great significance, but it will cost the country’s economy dearly.
“The economy is on its knees due to the ongoing load shedding as well as transport, logistics and infrastructure problems. South Africa cannot afford to give up a single day of productivity.”
South Africa loses productive days every year due to strikes and loses billions of rands per day if the economy comes to a standstill.
South Africa has 14 public holidays this year due to two holidays – New Year’s Day and Heritage Day – which fell on a Sunday and these holidays were therefore observed on the following Mondays in terms of the Public Holidays Act.
“The people who do not work on a holiday must still be paid. Employers will also have to pay overtime pay for people who do work. If a holiday is announced at short notice, employers also do not have enough time to plan around it in order to ensure that everything is completed or provided for.”
There have been numerous calls that South Africa’s number of public holidays be reduced or that if a public holiday falls on a Sunday it is not observed as a paid public holiday on the following Monday.
“It is often argued that a public holiday promotes extra spending in the form of retail sales, tourism and the hospitality industry. However, South African consumers are tightening their belts amid another possible interest rate hike, high fuel prices and sharp price increases in items such as transport, electricity and food.”
The country is facing a financial crisis and there are already indications that tax revenues will not meet the government’s targets this year.
“Instead, we must look at how the economy can grow in order to promote job creation and prosperity. If the government is serious about achieving any potential economic recovery, urgent action must be taken. The government should instead focus on getting reforms in place to remove the country’s logistics and energy constraints so that the economy can grow.”