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Philippine official opposes more public holidays

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MANILA, Philippines >> Increasing the number of holidays in the Philippines would make the country less competitive than its Southeast Asian neighbors and may turn away much-needed foreign investment, a top labor official said Thursday.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said she opposes legislative proposals to add up to 10 national holidays to the 18 non-working holidays already observed in the country.

She said local non-working holidays and work stoppages caused by natural calamities already hamper productivity and increase costs.

The foreign Chambers of Commerce complained in 2010 that the many paid holidays plus the country’s high labor costs compared with the region have “adversely affected” the Philippines’ business competitiveness.

The Philippines has for years lagged other Southeast Asian countries in attracting foreign direct investment that could boost industry and jobs, partly because of widespread corruption in government.

The country attracted less than $2 billion of foreign direct investment in 2010 compared with nearly $9 billion for Malaysia, some $12 billion for Indonesia and about $39 billion for Singapore.

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