The Government has maintained its stand on the declaration of the 7-day public holiday, despite the appeal by the private sector for it to reconsider the decision and concerns by the Opposition bloc, for the sake of businesses which are struggling to survive amidst the COVID-19 pandemic threat as borders remain close.
“It was on the recommendations of the Independence Committee and the Government of Vanuatu that the President of the Republic, Pastor Obed Moses Tallis declared national public holidays from 23rd -31st July 2020 to enable workers and general public throughout the country to celebrate the country’s 40th Independence Anniversary,” Prime Minister Bob Loughman conveyed via a statement yesterday.
“The declaration is made in line with the previous Government’s decision and desire to ensure that the 40th Independence Celebrations is celebrated across the country and the whole nation, down to the Area Councils, and its people and residents celebrate and cherish the 40 years history of Vanuatu’s achievements. It is an historical milestone for any nation and Vanuatu is proud to celebrate its milestone.”
PM Loughman noted the Leader of Opposition and Private Sector in Vanuatu have raised their concerns that these holidays will jeopardise the true meaning for the struggle towards Independence and that it is commercially costly to maintain the costs of staff and operations during the number of declared public holidays. Further, there have been public views through social media and other media avenues both in support and against the decision.
“Based on the above, as the Head of the current Government, I wish to stress that the President as the Head of State has already declared these public holidays,” PM Loughman said.
“These public holidays are to enable the people to Vanuatu to celebrate with the families their country’s achievements. It is a time for families to unite and congratulate each other for the struggles and achievements at all level. It is also a time to reflect back on what we have not done and that should help everyone to redirect and build on towards a better, resilient tomorrow.”
He said the government is “very much aware of the current financial and economic situations of the people and the business sector as we all strive together to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic period, however it is anxious of the need for Vanuatu to celebrate its 40th Independence to the fullest and thus the President’s declaration”.
“Please give the public holidays for our people and everyone of us to celebrate together the achievements of 40 years of our independent country’s existence. And we want to make it a celebration to remember because it also carries a biblical significance of 40 Years,” said the Prime Minister.
He added one of the reasons to declare the 7-day public holidays is to allow citizens and residents of this country, proud of their political freedom, to participate in the events, activities and public seminars that are organized by the Independence Committee as a means to educate our young generations of today about the rich culture, traditions, value and history of our nation as an independent state.
The Official Programme of activities and events is stretched out from the 23rd to 31st July 2020 and involved numerous venues in Port Vila and celebrations are also underway for the 72 area councils across the country.
“As the Prime Minister, I want to encourage everyone especially students to participate fully and engage in conversation with the national leaders, church leaders, chiefs and other community leaders to hear their experiences in fighting for political independence,” the PM said.
‘“I see values of the Public Holidays declared by the Head of State. It is a time to educate our citizens and refresh their understanding of our diverse cultures, custom & religious values and traditions. It is also a time to inspire each other and celebrate with pride the struggles of our forefathers and fathers to fight for our freedom,” he said.
“I wish to thank the Opposition and Private Sector for airing their views and hope that they can join us in celebrating our nation’s 40 years anniversary in a memorable way.”