Lawmaker-cum-nurse Wong Kit Cheng, who heads the Legislative Assembly’s (AL) Follow-up Committee for Public Finance Affairs, has warned that Macao’s fiscal reserves amounted to MOP 597.31 billion as of June this year, a decrease of MOP 45.85 billion compared to the end of last year, and called for an explanation as to how so much money was lost.
Speaking after the committee’s closed-door meeting yesterday, Wong revealed details of a report about the government’s implementation of its budget in the first six months of the year.
According to Wong, of the MOP 45.85 billion decrease, MOP 17.4 billion were investment losses, MOP 31.7 billion were allocated from the special reserves to cover the government’s expenditure on Covid-19 prevention and control measures, as well as easing people’s hardships and businesses’ dire straits, while MOP 3.2 billion – last year’s central budget surplus – was put into the public coffers.
The fiscal reserves recorded an investment loss of MOP 17.4 billion in the first half of this year, with a loss of MOP 7.63 billion from investments by the Social Security Fund and MOP 1.91 billion from the Pension Fund, according to Wong.
Wong said: “We want to ask the government for clarification as to why there were these losses and whether they will make the necessary adjustments. We want to hear from the government about the direction of these investments.”
Wong quoted the committee members’ concern about the losses and financial situation of the two funds, as well as the investment and financial situation of specific government entities.
Wong also quoted the committee members’ questions about the detailed investment situation in the first half of the year and whether adjustments would be made to the investment portfolio in the future.
Wong quoted the government as saying that the decrease in investments was largely due to the continued volatility of global investment conditions in the first half of the year.
The committee also followed up on the government’s Investment and Development Expenditure Plan (PIDDA).
Wong said that the initial budget for the 2022 PIDDA was MOP 18.32 billion, while its approved budget was MOP 18.53 billion, with actual expenditure of MOP 6.54 billion as of the end of second quarter of this year, representing a budget execution rate of 35.3 per cent.
Wong also said that 43 PIDDA projects recorded a project execution rate of zero per cent in the second quarter, including the Macao Public Security Forces’ smart policing project, which Wong quoted government officials as saying during yesterday’s meeting was due to the complexity and high technical content of the design tender procedures, part of which, however, had already been carried out in an orderly manner and was expected to have made progress in the third quarter, The Macau Post Daily reported.