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Government to submit 3rd budget amendment bill due to Covid-19 impact

The government has announced that it will submit a bill amending its budget for this year for the third time to the legislature, proposing to allocate MOP 8.15 billion (US$1.02 billion) from its extraordinary reserves so as to cover its expenditure to be spent during the remainder of this year.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:46 am

The government has announced that it will submit a bill amending its budget for this year for the third time to the legislature, proposing to allocate MOP 8.15 billion (US$1.02 billion) from its extraordinary reserves so as to cover its expenditure to be spent during the remainder of this year.

The government’s top advisory Executive Council made the announcement in a statement on Friday, which said that the government will request an urgent procedure for the debate and vote of the bill. If the Legislative Assembly (AL) approves the request, the bill will not be arranged for review by any of its standing committees before its final article-by-article debate and vote, which is slated to be immediately carried out after its outline is passed in an upcoming plenary session scheduled for its debate and vote.

Friday’s statement said that the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy was now larger than what the local government had initially expected. The government’s latest assessment shows that its revenues could not cover its expected expenditure during this year’s remaining time, and therefore it proposes to allocate MOP 8.157 billion from its extraordinary reserves so as to keep a formally balanced budget.

“The government’s revenue [for the whole year] that it now expects to receive from the gaming concessionaires will be less than its initially budgeted revenue for this year,” the statement said.

The government proposed to amend its 2020 budget already twice early this year. Both amendment bills were passed by the legislature in April. In the first amended budget, the government allocated MOP 38.95 billion from its extraordinary reserves to cover its expenditure on economic support measures for residents and businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the second amended budget, the government used the financial resources of the public Macau Foundation (FM) to cover its 10-billion-pataca expenditure on additional economic support measures, apart from allocating MOP 3.647 billion from its extraordinary reserves to cover its spending on the second round of its consumption subsidy scheme.

The government’s financial reserves comprise basic reserves and extraordinary reserves.

The first phase of the government’s consumption subsidy scheme, a 3,000-pataca consumption smartcard, ran between May and July, while the ongoing second phase of the scheme, a 5,000-pataca top-up to the card, is running between August and next month.

Consequently, the government allocated MOP 42.6 billion from its extraordinary reserves to the two previously amended 2020 budgets.

‘Careful calculation’

Speaking to reporters after attending a committee meeting in the legislature on Friday, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong said that after careful assessment and calculation the government has concluded that it would need an additional MOP 8.157 billion that would be enough to cover its expenditure expected for the remainder of this year, adding he was confident that the government would not need to propose another budget amendment for this year.

Lei said that the proposed additional expenditure would be “all spent on residents”.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng told reporters early last month that the government would soon submit a 2020 budget amendment bill to lawmakers for the third time proposing to allocate MOP 20 billion from its extraordinary reserves in order to cover its expenditure expected for the remainder of this year.

Sign of gaming sector’s recovery

When asked by reporters on Friday about the fact that the government has lowered the proposed amount to MOP 8.15 billion for its third 2020 budget amendment bill, Lei said that the city’s gross gaming revenues began to show the first signs of recovery after the issuing of Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) permits for all mainlanders to travel to Macao resumed on September 23, apart from the fact that various public entities have been reducing their expenses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Lei said that the government has therefore come up with the amount of MOP 8.15 billion needed to be taken from its extraordinary revenues after aiming for a balanced budget between expenditure and revenues.

Lei said that various public entities have been able to reduce their expenses due to a reduction in printing costs and the fact that some public projects have been unable to get off the ground due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also speaking to reporters after the committee meeting, Financial Services Bureau (DSF) Deputy Director Daisy Ho In Mui pointed out that the government would allocate a total of MOP 50.75 billion from its extraordinary reserves this year after including its latest proposed budget amendment – if passed by lawmakers during an upcoming plenary session.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News)
Photo by Government Information Bureau (GCS)

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:46 am

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