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Changed weekends could impact Johor's economy

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

PETALING JAYA, November 24 (Sin Chwe Daily) -- The state of Johor will be changing the weekend rest days from Saturday-Sunday to Friday-Saturday, and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) says it will respect the announcement of the Sultan although it admits that this measure could make it inconvenient for local businesses and those involved in external trade.

Besides, the measure is also seen as unfavorable to the economic development of Iskandar Malaysia, affecting the local business competitiveness as Johor Bahru is one of the places receiving most foreign investments in the country.

ACCCIM president Datuk Lim Kok Cheong told Sin Chew Daily is a bustling commercial city of international standards and most of the businesses in the state have close business relations with neighboring Singapore or other countries.

"We cannot compare the conditions in Johor with those in Kelantan, Terengganu or Kedah. It will be inconvenient for companies doing business with foreign companies, as they will have one working day less.

"Once the weekend rest day is changed to Friday, it will surely affect the work flow of many local businesses, especially those involved in export sector or having close business relations with other countries.

"As factories, banks and government departments will rest on Friday, local businesses will therefore also have to readjust their operational modes, and this will increase their work load.

"If a Johor company wants to send some good to Singapore, it cannot do so on a Sunday. It must liaise with its Singapore business partners again and this is not going to be easy."

Additional burden

Lim said during an interview with Sin Chew Daily that since JB is one of the places with most foreign investments, many foreign companies will shy away if they were to set up offices or factories in the state, as there are effectively only four working days in a week.

He also said if businesses insist to operate on Fridays, they may have to pay overtime to their staff and this will increase their operating cost.

However, he admits that the measure could boost the state's tourism industry, as businesses will stay open on Sunday and this will lure more Singaporeans to the state for holiday.

Following the state's decision to change the weekend rest days to Friday and Saturday effective January 1 next year, commercial banks in the state may choose to rest on Friday.

When contacted by Sin Chew Daily, Bank Negara's public relations officer said the banking sector normally follows the weekend rest days stipulated by the state government. For example, banks in Kelantan and Terengganu close on Friday instead of Sunday.

The public relations officer said Bank Negara would make an announcement on this matter over the next few days.

Meanwhile, Pos Malaysia has also decided to follow the pace of the state government by changing their weekend rest day to Friday and half day for Saturday.



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