KATHMANDU, Dec 12: A committee formed by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has recommended to the government to implement a two-day weekly holiday for employees.
In its report, the committee has claimed that five working days and two holidays in a week will not only boost productivity of employees, but also boost domestic tourism.
While many countries provide two-day holidays a week, such a recommendation is not suitable in countries like Nepal which provides many holidays for other purposes like festivals and special occasions including commemoration of various days, argue experts.
They also say that the recommendation does not match the economic and bureaucratic reality of the country.
Government employees in Nepal enjoy a total of 92 public holidays per year.
Currently, the government has set a 40-hour weekday requiring employees to attend the office from 10 am to 5 pm from Sunday to Thursday and 10 am to 3 pm on Friday. Government offices remain closed on Saturdays allowing employees to enjoy the weekly holiday after working for six weekdays.
As businesses and industries also follow the government calendar, private sector employees also get holidays almost equal to that of the public sector.
The recommendation, however, is not new. The government had even implemented the two-day weekly off system nearly two decades ago only to roll back the decision a few months later.
Senior bureaucrats say the decision on a two-day weekly holiday system was later scrapped after the government felt that it did not increase the efficiency and productivity of the employees as expected.
According to former finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi, if the two-day weekly-off is approved, it will be beneficial for employees while it will be the government service seekers who will have to suffer.
“Even today, the service seekers have to wait for days to get services from government offices. Nepal had already adopted a two-day weekly off policy, but it was scrapped later as it did not increase the productivity of employees,” said Subedi, adding that the government could not even make employees come to the office at 9 in the morning.
He further added that the government needs to study the impact of two-day weekly off it adopted a decade ago. “Did the system have an impact on the economy? Did it increase the productivity of employees? Everything needs to be analysed before the decision is made,” he added.
According to Subedi, government employees should be offered 15-day extra salary or allowance to motivate them rather than providing two-day weekly off.
The committee has said that two-day weekly-off will promote domestic tourism. But the truth is, one can not travel far in two days, and be present at work on the third day. Two-day weekly-off will not promote domestic tourism at all,” said Subedi.
Talking to Republica, high-ranking government officers also said that two-day weekly-off does not increase the productivity of employees, and service seekers will be hit hard by the decision.
“Already the number of festivals is very high in Nepal. It's not possible to scrap the holidays provided during the festivals which are linked with religious and cultural values. So is it necessary for the government to increase the number of holidays?” asked a secretary, who does not want to be named.