Since this is the year of implementation of the new constitution promulgated in September last year, a new beginning should also start by revising the list of public holidays.
The practice of too many public holidays is considered to be one of the major causes of long delays in the jobs getting done from government offices ranging from getting a permit to the registration of important events. As the same public holidays are followed also in the private sector, the system has hampered the productivity of the entire economy.
The list of public holidays has been lengthening each year, particularly after the country became a secular republic. In the past, only Hindu and some Buddhist festivals were holidays, now festivals of Christians and Moslems as well as other ethnic groups are added to the list. Given that Nepal has more than 100 ethnic communities, this list is likely to lengthen further. Many ethnic groups are already complaining of discrimination as their festivals are not in the existing list. And they are right.
Added to this is the practice of public holidays when a national level personality passes away.
Yes, the number of days a government employee or a worker of the private sector firm gets as holiday in a year in Nepal may be comparable with or even less than what the people enjoy in some developed countries that have 3 or 4 working days a week. But that is a luxury they can afford, not Nepal. Another point to remember is that even the 3 or 4-day week countries keep offices open for all five days and employees come to office to work and earn the leave. They save such leaves earned and enjoy it when they need. This way, the public does not suffer as they get government service continuously. But in Nepal, there are only a few weeks when the government offices remain open all six days. And sometimes, such as Dashain and Tihar festivals, the entire week is off. In some weeks, the public office may remain open one day and close the next and again open on the third day and close again on the fourth. Such a week is practically a holiday week as many employees take casual or home leave on the work days in between so as to enjoy three or four days continuous leave.
This can be corrected by adopting a different system. For example, we can stop declaring a festival day as a public holiday. Instead, an employee can be entitled to a number of days (say 10 or 15 or even 20) that he/she can take off as festival leave any time during the year, in a single tranche or on different days, in similar fashion as they do in the case of casual or home leave. If this happens, the offices will remain open also on Dashain and Tihar as well as Holi and Maghi or Christmas and Eid and the general people can get the government services also on these days while those who celebrate these festivals can celebrate. This way, no particular ethnic community will feel discriminated against. And the productivity of the government offices will enhance.