Nigeria lost about N1.12 trillion ($4 billion) of her total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the additional one-day holiday declared by the Federal Government to mark the Eid-el- Fitr holiday, experts have said.
After earlier declaring Tuesday and Wednesday as public holidays to mark the Muslim festival, the Federal Government extended the holidays to Thursday because the moon was not sighted last Tuesday.
Commenting on this development, frontline economist and Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, put the estimated cost of the additional holiday at 1.5 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP.Currently, the nation’s GDP is $500 billion and it represents 0.79 per cent of the world economy.
He, however, noted that the one day extension cannot be regarded as a total shut down of Nigeria’s economy, stressing that it is assumed that half of the working class would work today. The GDP, which measures of national income and output for a given country’s economy, is equal to the total expenditures for all final goods and services produced within the country in a stipulated period of time. Similarly, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) said the three-day public holidays had resulted in the economy losing billions of naira.
The OPS, which is the umbrella body of the private sector operators in the country, comprises of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Nigerian Economic Consultative Association (NECA).
They berated the Federal Government for extending the public holiday, saying that the banking, manufacturing, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs), shipping, construction and service sectors were the biggest losers.
Speaking with New Telegraph, the Chairman, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Small and Medium scale Enterprise Group (SMEG), John Kachikwu, said that the public holidays have deprived the nation’s economy of its daily revenue.
He explained that Federal Government’s decision to extend the public holidays was not in the best interest of the private sector operators because the OPS is the custodian of the country’s economy. He said that the SMEs operators in Lagos, the commercial nerve centre, may have lost about N50 billion as revenue, while in the entire country, may have lost several billions.
Kachikwu explained that most of the SME owners and private sector operators are not happy with the long public holidays because of the effects on the economy, adding that there is need for the government to, henceforth, liaise with the OPS before embarking on future public holidays in order to streamline the country’s business activities. Contacted on phone, the National President, MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs, acknowledged that the private sector operators always lost money during public holidays, adding that the norm is always two-day holiday.
In the same vein, National President, NACCIMA, Chief Bassey Edem, who noted that private operators are groaning under harsh business environment, faulted the government for the way it is handling the nation’s economy. Edem explained that the body language of the present administration showed that OPS’ input is not needed in driving the nation’s economy.
On the three-day public holiday, Edem said: “What is wrong with the public holidays? Does government need to consult anybody before it declares public holidays? Truly, the economy is going to suffer but this government does what it wants?” Likewise the Managing Director, Crane Securities Limited, Mr. Mike Eze said the economy was going to lose billions of naira. He also noted that the stock market, which is the bastion of the economy, will also be affected negatively by the additional holiday, which according to him, was not necessary at the period Nigeria is facing economic crisis. He advised the government to ensure that the economy does not hang in the balance by initiating clear policy directions for the economy.
Also, the Chairman of Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Mr. Boniface Okezie, expressed concern over the additional public holiday, stressing that it will cost the country billions of naira. “Two-day holiday should be enough, our economy is in danger and begging for rescue. So, there is no need calling for additional public holiday.
Let us not use religion to destroy the economy,” he said. Okezie advised the authorities to do more in area of power to enable most Nigerians especially entrepreneurs get more empowerment to create jobs. However, the Acting Managing Director of Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited (PCHS), Alhaji Mohammed Bulangu, said the additional holiday would not have much negative impact on the port industry. He explained that there was no way the holiday would affect businesses much at the ports, noting that his terminal at Tin Can Island Port was opened for business 24 hours in a day.
Also expressing support for the holiday extension, Developmental Economist, Odilim Enwagbara, said: “Since the economy is all about the people and their happiness, a threeday Eid-el Fitr celebration is good for the economy.
Nigerians would be afforded opportunity to rest, visit friends and family members. Also, because people will spend a lot more this time, it’s good for the economy since the more people are buying, the more goods and services are produced, which grows the economy and creates jobs even if these jobs are temporary.”
His views were echoed by an economist and public administrator, Mallam Adamu Umar, who said that the three-day holiday would have a positive impact on the economy. He said: “The workers – both those engaged by private and public sectors – would have relaxed and refreshed well within the three days short holiday.
The equipment will also gain lot of relief that will ultimately elongate its life span. If you are looking at the loss to the government, one day loss of revenue is too inconsequential to have notable impact on the economy.”