The Macao SAR Government’s policies for the rest of 2020 will work to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, protect jobs, stabilise the economy, keep up the standard of living for Macao people, introduce reforms and facilitate development.
Macao SAR Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng presented these overall directions among the major strands of his Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2020 called “Forging Ahead Towards New Horizons”, in the Legislative Assembly on 20 April.
Chief Executive Ho said his administration had committed to spending more than MOP50 billion in response to the pandemic. The Macao SAR Government therefore expects a budget deficit in 2020, the first since the establishment of the Macao SAR.
He also announced a set of policy measures to help tourist and leisure businesses recover from the slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read about them in greater detail.
Ho Iat Seng spoke about making the most of favourable policy measures delivered by the Central People’s Government to help develop Macao. In particular, he mentioned Hengqin Island and the opportunity the island presents to Macao in playing an active part in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. He said Hengqin was conveniently situated to help make the economy of Macao more diverse once businesses in the island’s Guangdong-Macao “intensive cooperation zone” get down to work.
Chief Executive Ho said the Government’s policy for the rest of 2020 had eight main strands. The first strand of policy is fighting the pandemic, thus maintaining community stability and creating conditions for economic recovery.
This policy strand includes putting more financial resources into infrastructure, expediting construction to create jobs. It features projects such as: starting work on the fourth crossing between the Macao Peninsula and the island of Taipa; speeding up work on the expansion of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) railway; building more public housing units; starting the conversion of parts of the Taipa Ferry Terminal into facilities for a second passenger terminal at Macao International Airport; and consulting the public before the end of the year about the urban development master plan.
Answering questions in the Legislative Assembly on 21 April, Ho Iat Seng told the legislators his administration would consult the public about the plans for an eastern LRT route. The light rail line would connect Macau International Airport to the Border Gate, via New Urban Zone Area A. Work would also accelerate on the LRT to Seac Pai Van and underground to Hengqin Island. The link to Hengqin would connect with the national high-speed railway network.
Another element of the first policy strand from the Policy Address is to encourage private investment and to put more effort into attracting investment, leading to more government support for Mainland Chinese enterprises to establish regional headquarters in Macao. Chief Executive Ho also pledged to speed up approval procedures for private investment projects and construction projects.
Efforts would be directed to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Chief Executive told the Legislative Assembly in his address that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused Macao SMEs great problems, and measures would be created to help solve them.
The second strand of policy is pressing ahead with government reform. The goal is to make the Macao Government service-oriented, showing integrity and efficiency in serving the public and business. The new administration will improve the mechanisms for upholding the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of Macao, improve legislative planning and coordination, and give priority to amending the law and regulations governing the economy and livelihoods.
The Government will improve inter-departmental cooperation, settling major cross-departmental issues in meetings of Chief Executive Ho and the government secretaries.
The Government will reorganise the public sector, first rationalising its bureaus responsible for economic services, tourism, education and information. The new administration has set up the Office for the Planning of the Supervision of the Public Assets of the Macao SAR to enhance supervision of enterprises that are funded publicly, and of autonomous funds.
The third strand of policy focuses on relieving hardships faced by Macao people and improving their well-being. Chief Executive Ho said the Government would take measures affecting housing, transport, healthcare and social security with a view to keeping up standards of living. Particularly, it will draft laws that consider the housing needs of middle-income households and the elderly.
The fourth strand of policy is to optimise talent-cultivation policies, and strengthen education and youth services. Chief Executive Ho said his administration intended to set up a high-level committee to vet talented people brought to Macao. The Government will integrate the bureaus that deal with education. It will support institutions of tertiary education in their teaching, their scientific research and their application of the results of their research.
It will build the International Portuguese Training Centre, and make Macao into a place that turns out people bilingual in Chinese and Portuguese. In addition, the Government intends on setting up a base for promoting patriotic education. It will make more effort to create conditions favourable for young people to obtain an education, find a job, become an entrepreneur and foster their general development.
A smarter city
The fifth strand of policy is improving urban planning so Macao can become a smart city. Chief Executive Ho said his administration would speed up the process of making the urban development master plan for Macao, do urban renewal work and coordinate land use. The Government will foster a “Digital Macao”, building infrastructure such as a fifth-generation wireless telecommunications network and a data centre.
The sixth strand of policy is promoting cultural diversity and cultural exchanges. Ho said the Government should strengthen efforts to make Macao a base for multicultural exchanges and cooperation, with the emphasis on Chinese culture, and to increase cultural exchanges and cooperation with the Portuguese-speaking Countries.
The Government plans to build new facilities for sport or improve existing infrastructure, and to stage international competitions and sporting events. It will help gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaires deliver more cultural and sporting events to increase their revenues from non-gaming offerings.
The seventh public-policy strand outlined in the Policy Address will strengthen anti-corruption measures and auditing, to ensure a corruption-free and efficient government. Chief Executive Ho said his administration would have zero tolerance of corruption, and that the civil service must show probity and integrity.
The eighth strand of policy is ensuring stability and security. The Government will optimise laws and regulations, its management and enforcement mechanisms necessary to safeguard national security.
It will improve the various police forces and enhance their ability to enforce the law, and it will cooperate more closely with its neighbours in police matters. The Macao SAR Government will optimise mechanisms for responding to public health emergencies. It will speed up legislation on fire prevention and precautions, and the regulation of dangerous goods.