Economists slam long Lunar New Year holidays, suggest seven-day cap

By Doan Loan   May 15, 2019 | 04:31 pm PT
Economists slam long Lunar New Year holidays, suggest seven-day cap
A street vendor sells branches of peach blossom, one of the most popular Tet decorations in northern Vietnam, on a Hanoi street ahead of the 2019 Tet in January. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Vietnam should not have more than seven days’ holidays for the Lunar New Year if businesses are not to stagnate, economists said.

The government is drafting an amendment to the Labor Law, which includes changes to Tet, the biggest and most important holiday in the Vietnamese calendar, when people reunite with their family to celebrate the new lunar year.

Economist Ngo Tri Long suggested the break should be five or seven days at most.

"A long break would allow people to reboot but at the same time, it would cause the economy to stagnate."

For new year celebrations, many countries only have one or two days of holidays, he said.

For many years now Tet holidays in Vietnam have ranged for seven to nine days. For the 2019 Tet, government offices and state-owned companies were away from work for nine days from February 2 to 10, including two weekends.

Le Dang Doanh, former head of the Central Institute for Economic Management, too said the Tet break should not be longer than seven days so that businesses would not be much affected.

Many Japanese-owned companies in Vietnam complain that the Tet break is way too long and their deliveries are delayed, he said.

Besides, workers take more days off after the holidays without notice, and there are times when the companies have to cancel export orders because they cannot finish them in time, he said.

Nguyen Van Binh, deputy head of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’s legal office, said it is a constant grievance that the Tet break is far too long.

There are two options proposed for amending the Labor Law and authorities are soliciting public opinion on them.

Both limit the Tet holidays to five days, with the difference being while one offers to compensate workers with holidays on other days if a weekend is involved, meaning people can have seven days off, the other does not.

Khuat Thu Hong, head of the Institute for Social Development Studies, said a long Tet holiday has its weak and strong points.

"With a long break, migrant workers in big cities would have the chance to enjoy their homecoming but that also mean they will need a certain period to get back to the normal working pace later, not to mention the long break means more parties, more drinking, which would result in waste, violence and accidents."

However, a long Tet break would stimulate the demand for tourism, she said.

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