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Industry leaders foresee testing times ahead for Macao

Banking, gaming and medical sectors all face an uncertain future according to speakers at business forum.

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Banking, gaming and medical sectors all face an uncertain future according to speakers at business forum.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:47 am

Macao is facing an uphill struggle over the coming year, according to industry leaders who addressed a forum organised by the Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Held at The St Regis Macao in Cotai, “What’s Next for 2022” featured speeches by BNU’s Deputy General Head of Corporate Banking, Seng Loi, Sands China Vice President of Resort Operations, Sean McCreery, and Macau University of Science and Technology Faculty of Medicine’s Professor Brian Tomlinson.

McCreery warned that the June 2022 deadline for the end of the current gaming concessions has caused a lot of uncertainty which the public consultation held on the proposed new gaming law had done nothing to dispel.

“I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty with the [gaming concession renewal],” he said.

 “I’m hopeful that our contribution to Macao has been recognised […] It is still very unclear what the future holds.”

McCrery added that companies’ cashflows were currently barely positive and that while he was hoping for a quick recovery, “everyone needs to be very cautious”.

As to the banking sector, BNU’s Seng Loi pointed to an alarming rise in loans.

“As a whole, the gross value added (GVA) of the industry grew but the whole market is jeopardised by Covid-19 so the total city GVA dropped a lot,” he said. “The more worrying information is that in June we saw loans surpass deposits for the first time in 10 years.”

Seng Loi indicated that green bonds and similar financial instruments could be the way ahead for banking in Macao.

“Green bonds are an entry point for the development of green finance in Macao, and the city and Hong Kong could become important markets for finance and green bonds,” he added.

In October 2019, the Bank of China in Macao issued the first local green bonds in dollars, euros and renminbi, valued at RMB7 billion (US$876.8 million). 

Seng Loi warned that banks should assist SMEs who were having a difficult time making ends meet during the current pandemic economic downturn.

“I work with local companies and we see a very serious impact not just in the tourism industry but in many companies in retail and F&B,” he added.

Professor Tomlinson addressed the subject uppermost in most people’s minds, asking whether the new novel coronavirus variant, Omicron, presented an especial danger.

“It would be ironic if this Omicron variant turns out to be very infectious but relatively benign,” he said.

“If it is more infectious it might infect everybody, become like the common cold, and make everyone immune. Maybe it could be the end of the pandemic. So far we know it’s more infectious but not if it’s more deadly.”

Professor Tomlinson insisted that vaccination was the only clear solution.

“These variants are inevitable if infections go on. It’s Darwin’s process of evolution […] viruses can evolve in hours or days. If there are ongoing infections all over the world we will get more variants.”

According to the latest figures, about 70 per cent of people in Macao have had at least one jab.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:47 am

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