“The worst is over” glimmer of hope for Macao’s economy

But city needs to attract foreign investment says Institute of Management President Samuel Tong Kai Chung. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten

MACAO, Feb. 4, 2021: Macao’s economy is recovering “slowly but steadily” such is the positive forecast from Institute of Management (MIM) President Samuel Tong Kai Chung. Tong said on Wednesday that the city’s economy passed its “worst period” in the second quarter of last year. Speaking on the sidelines of MGM and Macau Young Entrepreneur Incubation Centre (MYEIC) Youth Entrepreneur Nurturing Programme, Tong added that the speed of the economy’s recovery would be affected by three factors – the development of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong’s Covid-19 situation and the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Tong noted that Macao’s economy rests on three pillars – trade in services, local consumption expenditure, and foreign direct investment. He pointed out that in recent years the investment market for gaming industries has been saturated, adding that Macao could attract foreign investors if it had more interesting investment projects, such as collaborations with Hengqin. In terms of local consumption expenditure, Tong said that it depends on the unemployment rate in Macao. He said that if the unemployment rate stays at three to four per cent then the figures will slowly recover. However, he added that if the unemployment rate suddenly increases local consumption expenditure will be “pressured”.

Tong also said that he acknowledged that the consumer price index has decreased  in recent months. However, he said that tourism is the external factor of the index, and while  overall the figures are decreasing the numbers for food and non-alcoholic beverages continue to increase by three per cent. According to Tong, February will be an important month to examine the recovery of Macao’s economy.

Government cancels Chinese New Year’s firecrackers & fireworks

GUANGXI ZHUANG, Jan 8, 2021: The Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) announced in a statement on Thursday that it has decided to cancel Macao’s annual six-day period for the selling and lighting of firecrackers and fireworks at designated areas during the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday next month, as the pyrotechnic articles cannot be transported to Macao due to the suspension of operations at Beihai Port in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The statement also said that the bureau will refund the fees to the winning bidders who had obtained a permit to sell firecrackers and fireworks in the city’s two designated areas for the use of the products during next month’s CNY period.

Chinese New Year falls on 12 February.

The use and selling of firecrackers and fireworks is prohibited in Macao except in the officially designated areas for such activities during the CNY period. Last year, the government kept the traditional CNY activity of people lighting firecrackers or fireworks in the two designated areas – which took place in late January 2020, amid the first emergence of COVID-19 in Macao a few days before, with the implementation of COVID-19 prevention and control measures in place in the two areas. Macao confirmed its first COVID-19 case on 22 January. Chinese New Year in 2020 fell on 25 January.

Customarily, there are two designated areas for the selling and letting-off of firecrackers and fireworks during the CNY period every year – an area in the Zone B reclamation area near Macau Tower, and the reclamation area in front of Estrada Almirante Marques Esparteiro on the northern waterfront of Taipa.

Beihai Port’s improvement work

Thursday statement said that the winning bidders – who were initially slated to operate firecrackers and fireworks booths in the two areas during the upcoming CNY period – have told the bureau that Beihai Port, which is used by the manufacturers to export firecrackers and fireworks to Macao, is undergoing an improvement project so that the port’s operation has been suspended since New Year’s Day. The IAM statement pointed out that since 2016 firecrackers and fireworks produced in the mainland must be transported to Macao by sea only, adding that the mainland authorities require that such products can be loaded onto ships only in the ports that have been officially designated to handle such items to ensure safety.

Thursday’s IAM statement said that due to the suspension of Beihai Port’s operation, the firecrackers and fireworks cannot be transported to Macao in line with the mainland’s official requirements. The statement said that “after an assessment”, the bureau has decided to cancel the selling and letting-off of firecrackers and fireworks at the two designated areas for this year’s CNY period. The statement pointed out that the two designated areas were initially slated to open from 11 February (Chinese New Year’s Eve) to the night of 16 February (the fifth day of the Chinese New Year).

The statement pointed out that the bureau held a bidding process last month for eight booths in the Zone B letting-off area and five booths in the Taipa letting-off area. All 13 booths were awarded to the winning bidders at the minimum price MOP 5,000 each, the statement pointed out. According to previous IAM statistics, over the past few years, several thousand boxes of firecrackers and fireworks were imported by Macao for the annual CNY period each year.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News) PHOTO © Sam Lau

Macao Lawmakers Pass Bill Proposing Fines for Those Failing to Repair Their Buildings

MACAO, Dec 17, 2020:: The Legislative Assembly (AL) on Wednesday passed the outline of a government-initiated bill regulating the city’s building construction, which proposes that those who fail to carry out the necessary maintenance of or repairs to their buildings, despite an official order to do so, will face a fine, as opposed to the current situation in which no fine can be imposed. The bill also proposes that building contractors will be required to ensure a quality guarantee period of 10 years for the foundations and main structure of a building, while the quality guarantee period for other parts of the building and related facilities will be five years.

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário introduced the outline of the bill during a plenary session in the legislature’s hemicycle on Wednesday. The bill, officially known as Urban Construction Legal System, will be submitted to one of the legislature’s standing committees for review before it is resubmitted to another plenary session for its second and final debate and vote. The government proposes that the bill will replace the city’s current building construction regulation, officially known as Urban Construction General Regulation, which came into force back in 1985 when Macao was still under Portuguese administration.

According to the current building construction regulation, building contractors are responsible for guaranteeing the quality of a building for five years. The current Urban Construction General Regulation (Decree-law 79/85/M) merely states that owners should carry out the maintenance and repairs of their buildings every five years so as to ensure that the buildings remain in good condition. According to the current regulation, the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) can order the owners to carry out maintenance and repairs after inspecting the buildings. If the owners fail to comply with the order, the bureau can then carry out the work itself and subsequently bill the owners. However, the current regulation does not provide for fining building owners failing to comply with the bureau’s instructions.

During Wednesday’s plenary session, Rosário pointed out that while the current Urban Construction General Regulation requires owners to carry out maintenance of their buildings every five years, they will not face any fine if they fail to do so. The bill proposes that building owners will be required to carry out the first maintenance and repairs 10 years after the construction was completed and carry out maintenance and repairs every five years afterwards.

The bill proposes that after DSSOPT officials have discovered that a building is in a poor condition due to lack of maintenance, they will inform the owners to submit a report about the state of the building drafted by professionals from the construction sector, after which the owners will have to carry out the work suggested in the report. The owners who fail to comply with the DSSOPT order will face a fine of between MOP 2,500 and MOP 100,000 – provided that the current version of the bill is passed in its second and final reading.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News) PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)