In an about face, the Central Personnel Administration (CPA) said last night that Jan. 2 would be a holiday in order to give people a four-day break starting on Jan. 1.
Lawmakers across party lines had urged that Jan. 2, a Friday, be made a holiday, but Central Personnel Administration Minister Chen Ching-hsiu (陳清秀) said on Monday that “it was too late” to make such a decision. Workdays and non-work days had to be decided at least four months in advance, Chen said.
Government guidelines state that Mondays or Fridays should be made a day off whenever Tomb Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival or Moon Festival fall on a Tuesday or Thursday. But the rule does not apply for Jan. 1, the Founding Day of the Republic of China, 228 Memorial Day on Feb. 28 or Oct. 10, Double Ten National Day.
The CPA had said that only Jan. 1 would count as a national holiday, but Jan. 2 would remain a working day. However, the Cabinet overturned the decision last night.
“There will be four consecutive days off in next year’s New Year holiday. We want people go out and travel to boost consumption,” Chen told a press conference at the Government Information Office.
The holiday will run from Jan. 1 to Jan. 4, while Jan. 10, a Saturday, will be a make-up work day.
Chen said the CPA suggested Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) accept the change after Chen polled representatives of businesses, labor, education, parent associations and other government departments yesterday afternoon.
Liu approved the change, Chen said, but did not say if Liu had ordered the CPA to change its stance.
When asked by reporters yesterday about lawmakers’ calls for the change, Liu said the decision was up to the CPA.
Although the decision was contrary to guidelines, Chen said it was made to comply with the government’s policy of stimulating the economy and domestic consumption.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus deputy secretary-general Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) told a press conference earlier in the day that the CPA should make Jan. 2 a holiday so the public could have a four-day break.
People would be more likely to go out and spend money during a long holiday, Lo said, which would boost the economy.
KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) agreed that a longer break would boost public consumption.
“People have been feeling blue for a while. It would be a good idea to grant them a four-day holiday,” he said.
The caucus’ call came after KMT Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) made the suggestion to Chen Ching-hsiu during a phone call on Monday.
Fu said Chen had turned down the suggestion, citing the lack of time to make the change.
“He said several Cabinet officials were also opposed to this proposal ... I think our Cabinet is a bunch of spastics,” Fu said.
KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) said Chen’s response to Fu’s proposal was “unbelievable,” adding it had shown Chen was incompetent.
“Those who are unable to catch up with the government’s plan to improve the economy should be replaced,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊毅) said a four-day holiday would be good for everyone and would encourage spending.
DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said the Cabinet took just two days to devise its consumer voucher proposal, while Chen said he needed four months to prepare for an extra day of holiday.