Ho says COVID-19 impact exposes city’s overdependence on gaming, pledges active GBA participation

2020-07-10 03:10     Comment:0

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said yesterday that the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Macau’s economy “once again” exposed its overdependence on the gaming industry, pledging that his government will push ahead with its economic diversification drive particularly by making good use of the advantage of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy and actively participating in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA).

Ho made the remarks in a speech while chairing this year’s annual plenary meeting of the government-appointed Economic Development Council (CDE) at the World Trade Centre Macau in Zape.

The meeting, which was held behind closed doors, was open to the media at the beginning for several minutes when Ho made the speech. Yesterday was the first time Ho, who was sworn in as Macau’s chief executive in December last year, chaired the council’s annual plenum.

In his speech, Ho noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a “seriously adverse” impact on the global economy, adding that the volatility of the COVID-19 epidemic in various countries has resulted in “considerable uncertainty” for global economic recovery.

Ho pointed out that Macau’s economy, which mainly consists of exports of services, has also not been spared of the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic so that it has experienced a sharp decline in the first half of this year. Ho said that Macau’s various business sectors have been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and local companies – regardless of whether large, medium-sized or small ones – have been facing various types of difficulties and challenges.

Ho said that Macau’s economy in the second half of this year “is expected to continue to face considerable pressure amid the continued increase in global uncertainties”.

‘Phased’ achievements

Ho noted Macau’s “phased” achievements in its COVID-19 prevention and control work is thanks to the joint efforts of the local government and various segments of civil society. Ho pointed out that the local government has implemented an “active fiscal policy” and strengthened its public investment projects, apart from rolling out various tax deductions and exemptions and a string of financial support measures for residents and local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the aim of maintaining the local economy’s vitality.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has once again exposed the uniformity of Macau’s industrial structure, [the city’s] overdependence on the gaming industry, and its lack of economic resilience,” Ho said.

“We [the government] have to speed up studying policies of improving Macau’s economic structure and promoting its adequate economic diversification, and ensure the realisation [of these goals],” the chief executive said.

“In particular, we [the government] have to make good use of the advantage of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ system, so as to be well prepared for [Macau’s] active participation in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and lay a more solid foundation for Macau’s sustainable development in the long term,” Ho said.

Post-pandemic recovery

Ho said that promoting Macau’s economic recovery was now the government’s important task as the city’s COVID-19 epidemic has been brought under control. The chief executive called for joint efforts by all walks of life in civil society to propose “valuable” suggestions on polices and measures to promote Macau’s post-pandemic economic recovery

The Economic Development Council is a consultative body that consists of the chief executive, secretary for economy and finance, other senior government officials overseeing economic and financial matters, leading businesspeople, trade unionists and scholars. The council is chaired by the chief executive, with the secretary for economy and finance as its vice-chairman. It is tasked with advising the government on formulating its economic development strategy and economic and human resources policies. The council, which was set up in 2007, holds one plenary meeting a year.

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong and other senior officials such as Economic Services Bureau (DSE) Director Tai Kin Ip attended yesterday’s meeting.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng chairs the 2020 Economic Development Council (CDE) annual plenary meeting at the World Trade Centre Macau in Zape yesterday. Photo: GCS

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