The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, said today that the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Government would continue existing social welfare measures into 2024, including the city’s Wealth Partaking Scheme.
His comments were made while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a National Day reception to mark the 74th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Regarding a recent public tender exercise for the concession of two land plots in Taipa, for which only one bid was received for one of the plots, Mr Ho said that factors such as the current high interest rates, investor confidence levels and business pressure might have impacted the outcome of the public tender. A new public tender process for the plot that had no proposals would be launched when deemed appropriate, in the meantime giving the private property sector time to recover, he added.
The Chief Executive noted that the MSAR Government had recently launched a new application process for the Home-Ownership Scheme, making available a total of more than 5,400 units. In response to the housing needs of local residents, the MSAR Government had actively launched a number of public housing projects, in order to solve the housing problems of some residents.
Mr Ho pointed out that planning for the Home-Ownership Scheme housing projects that the MSAR Government had pledged to develop, had already been completed; land and the relevant projects were ready, and construction could start whenever deemed appropriate. The MSAR Government would continuously monitor developments under the latest round of applications for the Home-Ownership Scheme, and further analyse the housing needs of the local population, in order to assess whether to start accepting applications for Home-Ownership Scheme units on an ongoing basis, similar to the application system for social housing.
Mr Ho pointed out that the MSAR Government had been studying since 2022 the introduction of measures related to the property market, including whether to introduce so-called ‘spicy measures’ – i.e., restrictive measures. The MSAR Government would analyse the pros and cons of these measures, and evaluate whether policies to cool down property prices could have a negative impact on the overall property market. After full evaluation, any new measures would be submitted to the Legislative Assembly for approval, he said.
Commenting on policies to increase the availability of non-gaming facilities and to revitalise different areas of the city, Mr Ho said that, in this regard, the city’s six gaming concessionaires were following commitments made as part of their respective bids for a new concession. The firms had recently announced plans to invest in revitalisation projects of different areas of the city, and were making continued effort to make progress in fields such as conventions and exhibitions, entertainment, and concerts.
Mr Ho said the MSAR Government was satisfied with the performance so far of each concessionaire regarding their respective investment in non-gaming elements. Each firm had established a dedicated team to develop non-gaming elements, liaising with the pertinent government departments, in order to implement relevant projects in an orderly manner. The revitalisation projects recently announced aimed at importing to Macao new revitalisation concepts and benefit the development of existing businesses, stakeholders and tenants, as well as to attract new investors to settle in the areas concerned.
In terms of the six concessionaires’ contribution to enhancing Macao’s attractiveness to international tourists, Mr Ho said targets had not yet been achieved. Although more tourists from Southeast Asian countries were visiting Macao, the number of tourists from Europe and the United States had not yet reached the expected target, due to the limited number of international flights. The MSAR Government was discussing with airlines the resumption of a number of medium and long-haul international routes. In the long run, the MSAR Government was confident that Macao would attract more international tourists, the Chief Executive stated.
Regarding the “Northbound Travel for Macao Vehicles” policy, Mr Ho pointed out that matters such as adjusting the customs clearance quota for Macao vehicles could not be decided unilaterally by the Macao authorities. Such matters should be coordinated between the Macao side and the relevant mainland departments, since it involved many issues such as customs, border inspection, and staffing arrangements. Mr Ho said that the Macao and Zhuhai authorities had been closely discussing optimisation plans: relaxing arrangements regarding the “Northbound Travel for Macao Vehicles” policy during non-peak hours had been one of the optimisation measures adopted.
Regarding a salary adjustment for civil servants, Mr Ho said that such adjustment would apply from 1 January 2024 onwards. He added that the rate of adjustment could only be set once receiving a report on the matter from the Civil Servants Salary Consultative Council.