IT seems that now the demand for Friday as working day is no more limited to the business community but has become a popular public demand also. This can be seen in various articles and writings in newspapers. It is good to see that the people now are getting more and more involved/ concerned about the business needs of the country.
It is quite clear that the present government is not responsible for declaring Friday as weekly holiday. However, there seems to be a high expectation on this government as the components of the four-party alliance are mainly Islamic parties and people believe that these parties can set the example.
There is already some whispering that the four-party alliance has indicated that they would change the holding schedule when they come back to power in the next election. But in all fairness this should not be the philosophy. It should, rather, be an action taken now -- action that will definitely go in favour of the alliance in the upcoming elections.
According to Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA), buyers like Walmart, Tesco, Sainsbury etc., are finding it difficult to do usiness with us due to the rather unusual weekend. It is also said that almost 100% of our exports of RMG, frozen foods, leather products and other items are sold to customers in the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and other countries where weekends are on Saturdays and Sundays. As such can we, as a seller, dictate to them when to visit/contact us ? We have to say sorry to them: we are closed on Fridays, do not bother us on Fridays!
There is another point to discuss, which is about two weekly holidays or five working days which I strongly support. This is necessary for rest and recreation of the working force as well as for cost savings on power, transport etc. As the proverbial saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, some banking and other facilities, if required, can be kept operational on Saturdays with roaster duties and under special arrangements. Indeed, where there is a will there is a way.
Another factor about the weekly holidays relates to people's propensity to travelling to their village homes in case of two weekend holidays. Many people have stated that they would like to procure vegetables and other essentials directly from their growers as they find the prices prevailing in the capital city more than double of their rural prices. Some traders in the capital say it is due to transport/fuel costs, middlemen, toll and extortion enroute. For me, the simple economics is that if people could buy directly from the growers, that will be a WIN-WIN situation for all. Also the transport sector will get a boost with a sizeable population travelling to rural Bangladesh on weekends.
I also believe that the law and order situation will also improve as there will be a national vigilance by the high-moving population on weekends. As the Prime Minister has mentioned, let the eyes of the 140 million people be the CCTVs and, for us, we need to have more and more transparency.
Syed Feroze Ahmed
98, Park Road, Baridhara