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Government seeks MOP 6.34 billion top-up to balance budget

Poor casino revenues impacted by Covid-19 compel government to dig into Macao’s reserves for the third time this year.

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Poor casino revenues impacted by Covid-19 compel government to dig into Macao’s reserves for the third time this year.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

The government wants to amend this year’s budget for the third time, proposing to allocate MOP 6.34 billion from the extraordinary reserves to cover its expenditure during the remainder of this year.

Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon said that the government will request an urgent debate and vote of the bill in the Legislative Assembly (AL).

If the AL approves the request, the bill will not be sent for review by any of its standing committees before its final article-by-article debate and vote, which is slated to be carried out after its outline is passed in an upcoming plenary session scheduled for its debate and vote.

Cheong noted that due to the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy, Macao’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) stood at MOP 72.1 billion in the first 10 months of this year, which he said was far below the government’s initial forecast for the whole year’s GGR of MOP 130 billion. Cheong said that the government “finds it difficult to be optimistic” about the gaming revenues it now expects to receive for the remainder of this year. 

Macao’s gaming operators pay 35 per cent of their GGR as direct tax to the government. They also pay an additional four to five per cent of their gross receipts as “contributions” into the public coffers for a string of social, cultural and other causes.

In response to the situation, Cheong said, the MSAR government has taken measures to cut its expenditure, ordering public entities to cut unnecessary expenditures during the remainder of the year. However, Cheong said, the government still expects to be unable to keep a balanced budget between expenditure and revenues.

The Executive Council announced that in its latest assessment, the government now forecasts this year’s GGR to reach MOP 86 billion.

The government has already amended its 2021 budget twice. In the first amendment, which was passed by the legislature in April, the government allocated MOP 9.1 billion from its extraordinary reserves in order to fund measures to promote the economy and support employment and residents’ livelihoods, including the government’s electronic consumption benefit scheme. 

In the second amendment, which was passed by lawmakers early this month, the government allocated MOP 2.3 billion from its extraordinary reserves to cover its latest financial support measures for small- and medium-sized enterprises and local employees. 

The government’s financial reserves are made up of basic reserves and extraordinary reserves.

Consequently, the government has allocated MOP 11.4 billion from its extraordinary reserves to the two previously amended 2021 budgets, The Macau Post Daily reported.

 

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