Shatha Khalil *
The Iraqi economy suffers large financial losses due to official and non-official holidays, which suddenly taken annually for the security, political and religious necessities, despite the need to compensate for the severe deficit in the annual budget.
Iraq is at the forefront of the diversity of national and religious events in which public and private institutions are taking holidays, where holidays and leaves are imposed for various reasons and are often controversial in the Iraqi society, which are considered to be disrupted to its interests.
And that the state can not rise and develop with this number of useless holidays, except for some occasions that require a holiday because of the symbolic responsibility of Iraqi society.
In comparison to some countries, Swedish citizens enjoy only nine official holidays per year, while in Germany they range from 10 to 13 days depending on the state, compared to 14 days in Spain.
A member of the National Alliance Habib al-Tarfi disclosed that Iraq tops the first place in the world in the number of holidays, which are up to 150 days a year, and add to these events other sudden surprises, often imposed by security or political conditions.
Economic experts affirm and according to studies, these holidays cause losses and depletion of the Iraqi economy. The loss is estimated to be about 30 million dollars during the seven days of the holidays, and the holidays are taken without compensation for working hours, which leads to a failure to fulfill the obligations of the state towards its citizens noting that the Iraqi economy suffers from the delay due to wars and crises.
The economic expert, Haidar Daoud, confirms that the loss of a full month holiday is estimated at more than one billion dollars, if the average salary of the employee is 500 dollars a month at the very least, and this is why we call on the legislators to find a suitable solution to invest time against salaries, The other one, which calls for a reduction in holidays, is a report issued by a United Nations organization that confirmed that the average of work of Iraqi employee was an hour and a half hour during the 8-hour daily working hours which makes him at the top of the list of lazy employees globally .
He added that the multiplicity of official and non-official religious holidays and events not only affects the economy; it affects all life facilities, especially the study and educational level, which is affected by the security situation and its consequences, including holidays that are given to students on occasion and non-occasion .
if we talk about (25) weeks per year, two days are holidays per week so the total number of holidays on Fridays and Saturdays amounted (104) days per year, plus (13) official occasions equivalent to (26) holidays per year in addition that there is a leakage of staff and students on the day before and after the holiday; this is equivalent to the proportion of the number of holidays by 26 days also. There is also a system followed by Iraqis “between the two holidays a holiday” , it is within the 26 days, and on this basis we are talking about more than 170 days of vacation, note that these holidays do not include personal holidays of illness, travel or childbirth.
The views of the Iraqi public differed about the holidays between supporters and rejecters. There are employees in state institutions who see them as positive and provide them with an opportunity to entertain themselves and their families, especially that their salaries are paid to them anyway whereas the daily wage earners, the biggest segment in Iraq, see it as the main reason to deprive them from their daily income, while the pockets of some beneficiaries are reviving and get benefited of religious holidays in some provinces, especially Karbala and Najaf.
Iraqi MPs and economists warned of the consequences of the holidays and its impact on the Iraqi economy. Vacations and holidays that disrupt life in Iraq and crippling its economy, making it the first country in the world in the number of annual leaves, and Iraqi economic experts warn of the Iraqi economy hit by recession due to frequent holidays.
The length of holidays also affects the educational level of Iraqis. Schools do not succeed in completing school curriculums, and students receive little and insufficient time to develop their skills during the school year. The head of the Committee on Culture and Information MP Mason Damluji revealed, the draft law on public holidays will include about 20 public holidays.
Despite the absence of accurate figures on the losses incurred by the Iraqi economy because of the holidays, it is estimated that employees only on these holidays cost the state about 30 billion dollars annually. While others went to the figure of 150 billion dollars a year, annual loss of the entire production and economic process in Iraq.
The experts emphasize that Iraq and to meet its development needs, it does need not only to reduce holidays, but to increase the number of working hours.
In the same context, economic expert Bassem Jamil Antoine says that there is a deterioration in life and infrastructure, and the construction of productive sectors, noting that the holidays have been a burden on the Iraqi economy and confused it , and must reduce the holidays and especially non-official ones noting that all countries give 10-15 days Official holiday”.
The Committee on Culture and Information in the Iraqi Parliament recently presented the Public Holidays Act, which gives wide powers to provincial councils to approve holidays and events in accordance with the necessities and events that they find important, especially religious events.
The law gives the prime minister the authority to declare a holiday at times deemed critical by the government, such as the days of calamities and emergencies, as well as to give authority of the Sunni and Shiite endowment ( Waqf) and giving the Christian and Sabian Endowment the right to have holidays in their ceremonies .
If the law passed by the Culture and Information Committee is approved, there will be a reduction in the number of holidays previously scheduled. Experts believe that holidays cause economic loss to the country where the monthly government compensation is given to the employees annually.
According to the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, the number of government employees in Iraq is 3.2 million. Last year and previous one , the government approved 50 public holidays in Iraq, including 32 religious holiday days and others known as consensual where the government announced the two holiday for a whole week to be in line with the two communities (Sunni and Shiite ) and to see the crescent and the other reason because of the explosions as well as the vacations announced by the government due to the elections, usually three to four days, including the elections of the parliament and local governments of the provinces, and the days of the army and police , and computational holidays in memory of the occupation of Iraq, which the government is afraid of escalated attacks .
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies