“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” –Molière

Do public holidays help or hinder?

All fun and joy aside, although public holidays are seen as extra days to rejuvenate and spend time with family and friends, most employers are somewhat annoyed with the many public holidays. Too many public holidays may not be good for productivity and efficiency. Unplanned or ad hoc public holiday is disruptive for business. This is the reason why when the government of Pakistan announced Eid holidays to be observed from 10 to 15 May, the trade and industry leaders weren’t too happy with the decision as it would hurt economic activity. Not to be a party pooper, but they have a point. Public holidays can make you feel really good for a short while, but they’re not always beneficial in the long run. Because of such long holidays the GDP might also decrease. To those who aren’t familiar with the term GDP, it’s one of the most common indicators to gauge the health of a country's economy. It represents the total monetary value of all final goods and services produced (and sold on the market) within a country during a period (usually 1 year). For businesses, public holidays mean that they have to compromise their production yield which also lowers productivity. It also means that the businesses are not contributing to GDP on that particular day. Apart from the economic affect, long holidays may be an inconvenience for the daily life activities. It’s commonly understood that government offices and financial institutions are closed during public holidays. This means that any type of application or transaction is halted on those days. But, if you look at it in a different light, they do have positive impacts. Like we’ll be spending extra money during public holidays. This may be bad for us, but not the economy. Why? Because the negative impact on the economy could somewhat be offset with the spending of the consumers within these sectors, domestically.

Hammad Khan,

The growing problem of traffic congestion

Rising traffic congestion is an inescapable condition in large and growing metropolitan areas across the world. Peak-hour traffic congestion is an inherent result of the way modern societies operate. It stems from the widespread desires of people to pursue certain goals that inevitably overload existing roads and transit systems every day. But everyone hates traffic congestion, and it keeps getting worse, in spite of attempted remedies. Commuters are often frustrated by policymakers’ inability to do anything about the problem, which poses a significant public policy challenge. But the efficient operation of the economy requires that people work, go to school, and even run errands during about the same hours so they can interact with each other. That basic requirement cannot be altered without crippling our economy and society. That said, peak-hour traffic congestion in almost all large and growing metropolitan regions around the world is here to stay. In fact, it is almost certain to get worse during at least the next few decades, mainly because of rising populations and wealth. This will be true no matter what public and private policies are adopted to combat congestion. But this outcome should not be regarded as a mark of social failure or misguided policies. In fact, traffic congestion often results from economic prosperity and other types of success. Although traffic congestion is inevitable, there are ways to slow the rate at which it intensifies. Several tactics could do that effectively, but nothing can eliminate peak-hour traffic congestion from large metropolitan regions here and around the world. Only serious economic recessions – which are hardly desirable – can even forestall an increase. For the time being, the only relief for traffic-plagued commuters is a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle with a well-equipped stereo system, a hands-free telephone, and a daily commute with someone they like. Congestion has become part of commuters’ daily leisure time, and it promises to stay that way.

Hiba Munawar,