Thu, Dec 04, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Exporters decry holiday decision

SUDDEN DECISIONS Exporters said that they are only able to declare outbound shipments at customs on Tuesdays and Fridays so the plan will wreck schedules

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Business groups yesterday lambasted the government’s latest move to grant the nation’s employees a four-day break for the New Year holiday at the start of next month, saying that the sudden decision would increase costs for many companies.

“Many of our member export companies complained that making Jan. 2 [Friday] a mandatory holiday will mess up their shipment schedule,” Jason Fong (馮志良), deputy secretary-general of the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI, 工總), said yesterday by telephone.

Now that a four-day break must include a Friday, these companies will have to bring their shipment schedule forward to Tuesday, Dec. 30 since only Tuesdays and Fridays are available for exporters to declare their outbound shipments at customs, he said.

That means that exporters with a tight schedule will have to hire extra hands or ask employees to work overtime to meet the delivery, which adds unnecessary costs to businesses already operating with a thin profit margin, he said.

Fong said the CNFI had advised the government to offer more flexibility by allowing businesses to decide, in accordance with their own working schedules, whether they can make Jan. 2 a holiday, a request the government appeared to ignore.

Roscher Lin (林秉彬), chairman of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (中小企業協會), agreed.

The association’s secretary-general, Paul Wang (王振保), yesterday quoted Lin as saying that the government’s sudden decision curried favor with legislators, but “put a burden on businesses suffering from an economic slowdown.”

On Tuesday, under pressure from legislators across party lines, the Cabinet’s Central Personnel Administration made Jan. 2 a holiday on the grounds that people would take advantage of the four-day vacation to travel or shop, which would help boost the nation’s economy.

Shares of hotel and recreation stocks rose yesterday as investors welcomed the holiday news.

“The assumption is that consumers will be more likely to get out of the house and spend more money,” SinoPac Securities Corp (永豐金證券) said yesterday in a note to investors.

Shares of Formosa International Hotels Corp (晶華國際酒店) rose 6.2 percent to close at NT$256 while those of Ambassador Hotel Ltd (國賓) climbed 4.3 percent to NT$29.3.

But other business leaders saw the government’s decision as not having a great effect on slowing business.

Wang said that since orders had been cut at some small and medium businesses, some employees had been asked to take unpaid vacations amid the recent economic meltdown.

The administration’s decision would not affect these firms so much since employees will make up their working day the next Saturday, Jan. 9, he said.

Luo Huai-jia (羅懷家), executive director of Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (電電公會) also took a neutral stance.

He said that most electronics companies have no choice but to accept the government’s decision and would map out contingency plans for their schedules since there would be only one additional day off.

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