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Speaker urges govt to improve submission of tax bills

Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng said Tuesday that the legislature would study with the government ways to improve the latter’s submission of urgent taxation bills to the legislature as well as their debate and voting procedures.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:51 am

Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng said Tuesday that the legislature would study with the government ways to improve the latter’s submission of urgent taxation bills to the legislature as well as their debate and voting procedures.

Ho, an indirectly-elected lawmaker representing the city’s business sector, is the sole Macau member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing.

Ho made the remarks while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the legislature’s Chinese New Year media luncheon.

The government submitted late last month two urgent bills to the Legislative Assembly which aimed to tame the red-hot home market – a bill proposing that the owners of residential units need to pay housing tax even when their flat is vacant while the other bill proposed that an additional stamp duty be levied on all those who buy residential units in addition to their first one.

As Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On had requested an urgent procedure for the debate and vote of the two bills, neither was arranged for review by any of the legislature’s standing committees before its final article-by-article debate and vote.

The two bills passed by the legislature on February 6 and 7 respectively took effect on February 10.

Chui first revealed to the media in the middle of December last year that the government was studying toughened measures to cool down the city’s red-hot home market and aimed to implement the measures within a short time. Chui revealed at that time that the government was studying possible amendments to mortgage rules and taxation related to the property market.

Civic leaders and commentators have said that the government’s premature revelation of planning to tame the home market had made its cooling-down measures less effective after they were implemented. They also noted the ten-day difference between when the two urgent bills were published on the legislature’s website on January 31 and when the two bills finally took effect on February 10, which they said had led to some home buyers avoiding paying the respective stamp duty by rushing to buy a flat in the period.

Ho also said it was difficult and also “unhealthy” to arrange a plenary session for the debate and vote of a bill within 24 hours after the government has submitted the proposed law to the legislature.
Some civic leaders have spoken out in favour of the 24-hour period.

According to The Macau Post Daily Ho said the most effective way to tackle the issue – home buyers rushing to buy a flat before the law on a particular additional stamp duty is implemented – was for the Financial Services Bureau (DSF) to suspend collecting stamp duties from home buyers during the period.

Ho also underlined Macau’s relatively simple tax regime – such as there is no value-added tax (VAT) on the sale of real estate, adding that “Everybody can guess that the government plans to impose an additional stamp duty” after it reveals that it is planning a new round of home market cooling-down measures.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:51 am

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