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Costly as usual, no news here?

It is very difficult to understand why Macau would be the second most expensive city to build in Asia – only behind Hong Kong – and the 5th most expensive in the world, which is more expensive than Singapore, Tokyo and Paris. Arcadis, the global consultancy firm that produces this annual report by analysing the […]

It is very difficult to understand why Macau would be the second most expensive city to build in Asia – only behind Hong Kong – and the 5th most expensive in the world, which is more expensive than Singapore, Tokyo and Paris.
Arcadis, the global consultancy firm that produces this annual report by analysing the construction costs of 13 types of building shared a possible explanation for Hong Kong: the rising costs of labour, caused by the ageing workforce and labour shortages, as this newspaper reported yesterday.
The same factor could be considered for Macau. But it seems to be too little to explain too much.
It is true that specific lobbies have been trying to make labour importation a political issue, lobbying for more and more restrictions. Some that advocate the increase of those restrictions while the market cannot respond to demand are naïve and populist. Others are far from letting a political agenda cross their minds. They stand to gain from the shortages.
But the report, to be more accurate, should go deeper and explain why a small town that is far from imposing the same level of corporate taxes and gives more fiscal benefits than most of the main capitals in the world can be so expensive.
Could it be because the government tends to pay regardless? Even if a public project changes its architectural projects and engineering and so on time and again? Or because some of those constructors involved move as fish in a pond in the political arena and no one bothers to ask?
During the current Ho Chio Meng trial, what the witnesses have said that the former Prosecutor-general and other defendants were allegedly doing – overcharging the government for projects – is what some government departments do all the time, which might explain why Macau is so expensive and nobody finds it strange. The money, being everyone’s, is nobody’s in particular.
Has anyone found it curious that a plane ticket bought in Macau by a government department from certain agencies can cost up to 50 per cent or more than the exact same ticket when it is bought by a common citizen?
Building in Macau is more expensive than Tokyo? Clearly a front cover story. That will be forgotten until next year’s report, while business carries on as usual.

OPINION

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