Oliver here, in Lima:
Peru is undergoing a radical transformation. The government has decided that the nation’s poor time-keeping is not only disrespectful but it costs the country precious investment.
The “mañana” attitude, so prevalent across the Latin world, seeps into everything: planes leave late, business meetings don’t start on time, employees fail to keep their hours, deliveries are always delayed, deadlines are missed, etc.
Now Alan Garcia, Peru’s new president and a reputed stickler for punctuality, wants to introduce a new form of time-keeping. He is calling it “la hora sin demorra”, a rhyming slogan meaning “time without delay”.
At 12 pm yesterday, church bells across the country rang in synchrony to signal the introduction of a national “pact” to be more punctual.
Speaking at 11:48 (on the dot), Mr. Garcia spelt out the benefits of not being late: if there are 16 million adult workers in Peru and each one delays or makes others delay half an hour a day, that amounts to three billion work hours per year. On the president’s calculator that measures a loss of earnings of $5 billion.
“Lack of punctuality has a huge economic cost for our country”, he told the crowd in central Lima, concluding his speech just as the clock ticked 12 o’clock.