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Economic recovery No 1 priority next year: Chief Executive

Ho Iat Seng discounts internet rumours ‘bad-mouthing’ Macao, expresses full confidence in ‘healthy’ gaming industry.

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Ho Iat Seng discounts internet rumours ‘bad-mouthing’ Macao, expresses full confidence in ‘healthy’ gaming industry.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:35 am

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng delivered an upbeat picture of Macao’s economic situation in his 2023 policy address to the Legislative Assembly yesterday, pointing to the city’s increasing Covid-19 vaccination rate and the easing of anti-virus measures.

Speaking at Government Headquarters after the address, Ho reaffirmed that Macao must continue to stick to its dynamic zero-Covid policy.

Ho said that promoting Macao’s economic recovery will be the number-one priority next year while continuing with Covid-19 prevention and control measures. 

According to the Health Bureau (SSM), Macao’s Covid-19 vaccination rate reached 93.5 per cent last week. The bureau has underlined that while the city’s inoculation rate among the population in general is high, the jab rate among senior citizens is still not high enough.

Ho acknowledged that the fight against Covid-19 had lasted almost three years. But he was quick to add that he believes that with Macao’s “constantly increasing” Covid-19 vaccination rate and with mainland China’s easing of Covid-19 measures, such as shorter hotel quarantine period for arrivals, Macao would see a “good development direction” next year.

Asked how the government could prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus when economic recovery heavily depends on quarantine-free travel arrangements between the city and mainland China, Ho underlined that Macao must continue to “unwaveringly” stick to its dynamic zero-Covid policy.

Ho acknowledged, however, that there is no place in the whole world that can come up with “good and effective strategies” that would always prevent the occurrence of Covid-19 community cases. Ho noted that while the Hong Kong government has eased its entry measures for arrivals, namely a “0+3” arrangement that requires arrivals to practise three days of health monitoring without having to undergo hotel quarantine, Hong Kong has reported almost no increase in the number of tourist arrivals.

Ho also pointed out that even during its “golden period” before the Covid-19 pandemic, Macao’s tourism industry had heavily relied on visitor arrivals from mainland China.

Ho said that the SSM has managed to master the epidemiological characteristics of the novel coronavirus and thus acquired extensive experience in quickly bringing down Covid-19 community transmissions.

Ho noted that the bureau had swiftly tackled the city’s Covid-19 situation that affected the community between late last month and early this month.

Meanwhile, Ho said that while currently, on average, around 150 Hong Kong residents come to Macao every day, the situation hardly benefits Macao’s tourism industry as most of the Hong Kong residents entering Macao merely intend to travel to mainland China via Macao by undergoing their hotel quarantine here.

Ho underlined that for the time being Macao cannot ease its Covid-19 entry measures for arrivals from Hong Kong, pointing out that, on average, Hong Kong currently reports up to 6,000 new local Covid-19 cases every day. 

Meanwhile, Ho also said that while the SSM has been implementing various measures to boost the Covid-19 vaccination rate among senior citizens, a “certain” number of seniors in the city have never been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. For example, Ho noted, all three members of a local family who were diagnosed with Covid-19 late last month had not been inoculated.

Meanwhile, Ho also reaffirmed that the operations of Macao’s gaming industry is “very healthy”. He acknowledged that while the city’s gaming operators have been going through a difficult time having incurred losses for almost three years during the pandemic, this did not mean that some of them would go belly-up because all of them had been able to generate huge revenues for almost two decades.

Ho urged residents not to believe rumours circulating on the internet that “bad-mouth Macao”, The Macau Post Daily reported.

Meanwhile, Ho also said that the government plans to launch a new round of applications at the end of next year for around 5,000 subsidised home-ownership scheme flats, which are part of the government’s public housing programme which also includes social rental housing. 

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:35 am

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