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May 31, 2008

Govt mulls four-day week for civil servants

With energy prices continuing to rise the Philippines is considering implementing a four-day week for all government employees, AFP quoted officials as saying Friday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told journalists that the idea was being taken seriously by President Gloria Arroyo's government as a way of reducing energy costs.

"But before we make any decision either way the proposal needs careful study to ensure that it will not negatively affect the economy," he said.

"It does not follow that when we do not go to work in a day, our economy will stop. It could very well mean that we save gasoline and diesel," he added.

A number of congressmen have been pushing the government to consider the proposal for the large bureaucracy.

Some 2.7 million out of the Philippines' 33.7 million-strong labour force work for the government or state corporations, according to the National Statistics Office.

Among other related proposals, Ermita said switching the government's vehicle fleet to diesel-fueled vehicles from gasoline-fed would save 1.44 billion pesos (about $33 million) a year in fuel costs.

A government task force formed by Arroyo to craft an action plan to mitigate high fuel costs would discuss specific proposals at their next meeting on Monday, he added.

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