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Bulgaria’s April holidays costing economy hundreds of millions – report

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Wed, Apr 11 2012 2954 Views
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The long weekends in April 2012 will mean losses to Bulgaria’s economy of between 150 million and 200 million leva, according to the Sofia-based Centre for the Study of Democracy.
 
Bulgaria has a four-day weekend for the Orthodox Christian Easter from February 13 to 16, and another long weekend at the end of the month, with a special public holiday declared on Monday April 30 ahead of the May 1 Labour Day holiday.
 
The losses to the economy result from time off, payment of overtime and decline in turnover, the centre said, while noting that this was not equally valid for all businesses and companies.
 
The biggest losers were industry, trade and banking, the centre said, according to a report by television station bTV.
 
Because of the economic crisis, many businesses would not be paying Easter bonuses and could not afford to pay overtime for working on the days off. So they would just close their doors and await the losses, the report said.
 
"Companies that have deadlines to carry out contracts and orders will be big losers if they cannot fulfil contracts on time and will be forced to pay penalties," said Tsvetan Simeonov of the transport industry chamber. "Other losers will include those who, because of the holidays, lose customers and markets."
 
But the holidays are good news for some, including food retail chains, hoteliers, restaurateurs and service stations.
 
Estimates are that 250 000 Bulgarians will travel this Easter. Those spending the holidays with relatives will spend on average 128 leva (about 64 euro) while those staying in hotels will spend about 240 leva. Those going abroad would be spending about 500 leva, the report said.
 
European Union statistics show that even when there are no holidays, Bulgarians are among the least productive in the EU.
 
Officially, specially-declared days off decreed by the Cabinet – usually, to create a four-day weekend – are meant to be traded off against "working in" on another day, customarily a Saturday close to the special day off. But there is no firm evidence how well this system works in terms of employees actually working.

Apart from the "enforced leisure" of Bulgaria's increasing number of unemployed, said by Eurostat to have been 12.4 per cent in February 2012, Bulgarians are headed for another four-day weekend in May 2012, from the 24th to the 26th.

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