The government is launching a 60-day public consultation today on the drafting of a bill regulating the operation and supervision of the city’s public enterprises. It aims to ensure that their decision-making process will always be supervised by the government and ensure the rational use of the public funds.
The bill proposes that public enterprises will be overseen by an existing public entity, rather than setting up a new one.
The bill aims to solve the problem that the government’s supervision of public enterprises is not clearly defined, as Macao’s various public enterprises are overseen by different public entities in line with the nature of each enterprise’s scope of business.
Sónia Chan Hoi Fan, who heads the Macao Special Administrative Region Public Assets Supervision and Planning Office (GPSAP), announced the government’s decision to launch the public consultation, which will end on 18 December. Two public sessions will be held before then.
Public enterprises, also known as publicly-funded companies, refer to firms in which the Macao government or any of its entities are holding shares. Local companies in which the government holds over 50 per cent of the shares include Macao International Airport, Macao Science Centre, Macao World Trade Centre, and Macao Slaughterhouse.
Some public enterprises are wholly owned by the government, such as public broadcaster TDM, as well as the company tasked with the planning and operation of Macao’s Light Rail Transit, and the company tasked with the city’s urban renewal process.
Local companies in which the government holds less than 50 per cent of the shares include power utility CEM (8.16 per cent), telecom operator CTM (one per cent), and Air Macau (21.5 per cent).
There are currently 22 publicly-funded companies in Macao. In 14 of the companies the government holds over 50 per cent of the shares.
The GPSAP was established as a government project team in December 2019 when Chan was appointed its director. She was the policy secretary for administration and justice in the previous government.
The office is tasked with studying the modus operandi of the city’s public enterprises and use of public funds and submitting suggestions to the chief executive on possible improvements to their operation and use. The GPSAP is also tasked with assisting the government in formulating measures to promote the sound operation of public enterprises and public funds.
The office has an initial duration of three years which can be extended, and is directly overseen by the chief executive and is headed by a director with the assistance of two deputy directors.
The public consultation document points out that Macao currently does not have a specific legal system regulating the operation of the city’s public enterprises. In addition, there is also no specifically designated public entity tasked with overseeing the operation of public-funded companies.
The consultation document notes that consequently the operation of the city’s public enterprises is only regulated by the Commercial Code, which applies to all types of companies in Macao.
Chan said that her office had also commissioned a research institution to study the operation of the city’s various public enterprises. The office has also studied and compared legislation in mainland China, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Singapore, the UK and the US before drafting the public consultation document about the proposed legislation regulating public enterprises in Macao. Chan said that her office also took into account Macao’s legal system and its socio-economic situation when drafting the proposed legislation.
According to Chan, the government is proposing that Macao would adopt the modus operandi of supervision similar to the mainland, whose State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission is tasked with managing all state-owned enterprises.
As far as Macao is concerned, Chan said, the local government is proposing that all public enterprises would be overseen by just one public entity, which would also be tasked with exercising the rules listed in the proposed legal system regulating public enterprises.
Chan said that the local government is proposing to establish its legal system regulating public enterprises in line with the mainland’s practice after considering that Macao does not have a large number of public enterprises. Chan said that adopting this modus operandi would involve a lower cost as there would be no need to draft different legislations specifically for different public enterprises.
After the public consultation process is completed, the bill regulating the operation of public enterprises will have to be passed by the Legislative Assembly to become law.
Chan said that the government would not set up a new public entity tasked with overseeing the city’s public enterprises. Chan said that the government would only decide whether her office or another existing public entity would be tasked with overseeing the operation of the city’s public enterprises after the new law takes effect – if passed by lawmakers in the future, The Macau Post Daily reported.