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‘Not yet decided whether to run for 2nd term’: Ho

2024-05-20 03:41     BY Yuki Lei    Comment:8

Chief Executive (CE) Ho Iat Seng said yesterday that the seven-day visit by the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Director Xia Baolong to Macau was an assessment of his government, in which Xia expressed support for the government’s work and made suggestions concerning its inadequacies, underlining that no mention of the work relating to the election for the sixth-term chief executive later this year was made during Xia’s visit, and Ho also said at a press conference that he had not yet decided whether to run for a second term of office. 

“In accordance with the procedures in line with the amended Chief Executive Election Law, Macau is currently carrying out the registration of candidates for membership of the Chief Executive Election Committee and other procedures, so there have been no discussions on the relevant aspects [during Xia’s fact-finding visit],” Ho said, adding that in terms of the chief executive election, “we have not yet reached this point in the election process and, therefore, no decision has been made yet, but I will make an announcement if I have made a decision”. 

Ho made the remarks during a Q&A session during yesterday morning’s press conference at Government Headquarters about the Xia’s week-long visit to Macau which started last Monday afternoon and ended yesterday morning.

Xia, 71, also heads the Hong Kong and Macao Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. 

At the press conference, Ho was repeatedly asked about the chief executive election and whether he would run for a second term. He replied: “I’m not going to share anything about these today [questions of whether or not he will stand for re-election as chief executive”.

As for Xia’s suggestions regarding Macau’s inadequacies, Ho said that “there’s no government that never leaves room for improvement……and there are a lot of areas that Macau needs to improve”, for example, residents’ dissatisfaction with local traffic because of the narrow roads and congestion, adding he believed Xia had seen and heard about the situation, and some people also passed their views on to him. The government will endeavour to rectify and improve the situation, Ho stressed. 


SMEs need to adapt to new situations, environment

Asked how the government could help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) tackle their business difficulties, Ho said that the difficult operation of physical shops was not unique to Macau, but a universal problem in surrounding cities, adding that there were changes in the current situation and, therefore, “SME operators need to adjust their business mindset in the light of the new situation and environment”.

“The government has all along been doing work in this regard,” Ho said, pointing out that “with the large number of tourists visiting Macau, we need to study what industries can persuade tourists stay and spend money here”. He promised that the government will do its utmost to assist SMEs in upgrading and restructuring, and whenever they have such a need, the government has relevant entities to follow up on the matter.


Gaming industry accounted for 36 pct of GDP in 2023

Meanwhile, Ho pointed out during the press conference that “Macau’s gaming industry has been dominant for many years, but now there has been a big turnaround,” noting that in the past, the gaming industry accounted for up to 63 percent of Macau’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, Ho said, according to data to be released soon, the gaming industry accounted for only 36.2 percent of last year’s GDP, being in line with the government’s five-year “Plan for the Appropriately Diversified Development of Macau’s Economy”, according to which the target has been set that the gaming industry will only account for about 40 percent of Macau’s total GDP in the future, while non-gaming businesses will account for 60 percent. 

Ho also said he hoped that the share of the gaming industry in Macau’s total GDP would remain below 40 percent this year, continuing to develop in the direction of an appropriately diversified economy. 


Ho to review direction of Macau’s development 

Macau is on a baseline target of 30 million visitor arrivals this year, Ho said, pointing out that Macau’s record high of visitor arrivals stands at nearly 40 million. He added that in the face of new policy adjustments by the central government, such as the “Hengqin-Macau round-trip tour groups” measure, Macau’s service area for tourists has been extended to Hengqin covering an additional area of 106 square kilometres, allowing Macau’s tourism carrying capacity to be reassessed. 

According to official statistics, Macau welcomed 39.4 million visitor arrivals in pre-pandemic 2019, the highest annual number on record. 

Ho also said that the government will start its work in accordance with the goal of Xia’s expectation for Macau to polish its “golden business card” as an international metropolis, revealing his preliminary plan to consolidate the international evaluation and recognition of Macau over the years, such as its naming as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy and the UNESCO World Heritage listing of the Macau Historic Centre, as well as the new attractions created by Macau’s development in recent years, in order to review the direction of its future development. Ho emphasised that the consolidation process would take into account the views of the community. 


Hengqin, Macau joint development 

During yesterday’s press conference, Ho also placed special emphasis on the development of the Guangdong-Macau In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, saying that Xia had expressed hopes that joint efforts and communication would be made between the two places’ governments to accelerate the development of Hengqin and promote the implementation of the “1+4” strategy for appropriate economic diversification. 

The Macau government’s 1+4 model aims to consolidate and diversify the development of the city’s tourism and leisure industry while putting special emphasis on promoting the development of four nascent industries, namely 1) big health, 2) modern finance, 3) high-tech, and 4) MICE and commerce as well as culture and sports. 

Ho also reaffirmed that the central authorities do not have any intention of physically handing over Hengqin to Macau but only in terms of development concept, use and direction.  


Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng poses during yesterday morning’s press conference about the seven-day fact-finding tour of Macau by the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) Director Xia Baolong on May 13-19, at Government Headquarters. Xia’s visit ended yesterday morning. – Photo: Yuki Lei

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