Polishing Macau’s ‘golden business card’ needs residents’ joint efforts: Ho

2024-06-18 03:48
BY Yuki Lei

Senior central government and Communist Party of China (CPC) official Xia Baolong emphasised during his seven-day fact-finding visit to Macau last month the need to make concerted efforts to polish the city’s “golden business card” as an international metropolis so that it will shine even brighter, and Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng pointed out yesterday that polishing the golden business card was never just by talk but by action and required the joint efforts of Macau residents, adding that only if local residents love and protect Macau can it maintain its golden business card that it received from the central authorities and others. 

Ho made the remarks during yesterday morning’s briefing for a press delegation joined by over 100 Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) journalists from the mainland, Hong Kong and some local media, including public broadcaster TDM and Chinese-language Macao Daily News – Macau’s top-selling newspaper. 

Macau may achieve double-digit economic growth this year: Ho  

As reported by Macao Daily News, Ho replied to a reporter’s question of whether Macau was satisfied with the current situation of the appropriate diversification of its economy: “Macau is a small city, strong in tourism but weak in other areas, so the government has made adjustments [to its 1+4 policy aiming 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 big health, modern finance, high-tech, and  MICE and commerce as well as culture and sports] in accordance with the requirements of the central authorities,” adding he was confident that Macau will be able to achieve double-digit economic growth this year.

Macau’s gaming industry, Ho was quoted by the report as noting, accounted for about 40 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) last year, down from its peak of 63 percent, while non-gaming businesses accounted for 60 percent. 

Ho added, according to Macao Daily News, that although last year’s overall GDP was still lower than that of pre-pandemic 2019, he was confident that it would return to a higher level this year, with growth in the first quarter of this year at 25 percent year on year, and if the good trend was maintained in the second half of the year, there would be double-digit economic growth this year. 

‘Macau will not give up its gaming industry’

Macau’s economy faced major difficulties during the three-year COVID-19 pandemic, due to which the government decided to develop its “1+4” strategy of industrial diversification to solve the city’s problem of being “dominated by one industry”, Ho said, stressing, as cited by RTHK, that Macau would, however, not give up its gaming industry, where it has the edge over other tourist destinations, but, on the other hand, would also plan well for other industries, which may take time to bear fruit.

During the press briefing, according to TDM, Ho also said that Macau has identified different types of non-gaming development directions, including performing arts, conventions and exhibitions, and international sports events, adding that Macau was confident that its various non-gaming attractions would enhance the city’s economic vitality, greatly boosting Macau’s overall economy. 

Ho also said, according to various news reports, that in the 25 years since its return to the motherland, Macau has been financially sound, with no external or domestic debt, adding that it has achieved a balanced budget this year, expecting to have a surplus budget next year.

Macau gradually expands int’l tourism market

The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has set a target of three million foreign visitors this year, but Ho said, according to Macao Daily News, that many international routes have not yet fully resumed, mainly due to the unpreparedness of staff in other regions and the economic downturn in Europe and the US, resulting in a decrease in the number of foreign visitors, which was considered to be a problem faced by the mainland and Hong Kong as well. However, he added, with 65 percent of Macau’s visitor arrivals coming from the mainland and the remaining 35 percent from Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and other countries and regions: “We will stabilise the Southeast Asian market, and then move on to Europe, the US and the Middle East, and we will definitely develop internationally”. 

Jobless rate ‘relatively low’

In terms of the government’s effort to encourage young local people to integrate with the GBA, Ho pointed out that Macau’s unemployment rate was “relatively low”, with the median monthly earnings of local residents standing at about 20,500 patacas, adding that although the government urges young locals to work elsewhere in the GBA, the actual wages they would earn there may be lower than those in Macau after deducting expenses such as the mainland’s endowment insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, work-related injury insurance, childbirth insurance and housing accumulation funds, because of which some young people prefer to continue working in Macau.

Opposing ‘fierce’ competition among GBA cities 

Ho also said that the development in the GBA should not result in “fierce” competition among its members (nine cities in Guangdong and the nation’s special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau), adding that each member of the GBA should develop their own distinctive industries, based on their specific positions. He also said Hong Kong has forever been Macau’s “elder brother” supporting Macau. 

Ho also said that the development of the Guangdong-Macau In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin continued to be the focus of Macau’s economic diversification drive.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng talks to over 100 Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) journalists from the mainland, Hong Kong and some local media during yesterday’s press briefing, at Government Headquarters in Nam Van. – Photo courtesy of TDM


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