The Secretary for the Land, Transport and Public Works Bureau (DSSOPT), Raimundo Arrais do Rosário, asked legislators to be patient and trust the government in its commitment to improving the situation of public housing in Macau, claiming the incorporation of a points-based system is on the agenda.
“We agree with the points-based system, so there is no problem in that regard. We also said we will review the law of social and economic housing,” said the Secretary.
Rosário’s answers were voiced during a debate in the Legislative Assembly (AL) in reply to a written interpellation by legislator Au Kam San, who proposed that a points-based system – effective in the 1980s and later discontinued – be re-enacted as the preferred method to allocate economic housing in the city.
Where several legislators and the Secretary did not agree was on keeping the lists of candidates who do not make every round of public tender opened for applications.
“Keeping the lists is a point [on which] I have to disagree. We will not keep the lists because we cannot keep a stable offer.”
According to the Secretary, the problem of keeping the lists in view of a limited and unstable property offer is that people’s situation, including conditions such as age, income and patrimony, change with time.
“If we open a period of public tender and there are not enough houses available, many people have their situation change in the meantime, so that the criteria for attributing units may no longer apply when new ones are made available,” he stressed.
The Secretary reiterated that it is important that enough residential units are available before the government commits to launching new procedures for tendering.
“When I assumed the job, I faced a problem back them. There was a tender, and there were 40,000 candidates and we only had 1,000 units to allocate. Due to time limitation, we had to proceed by attributing them on a random basis,” he remarked.
Rosário clarified that there are currently 48,000 public housing units on offer in the city, while the number of private housing units is 172,000.
“In the future, we are planning to have some 48,000 more public housing units in Zone A, and there might also be some more 52,000 private units in Zones A and E,” he disclosed.
That makes for some 317,000 residential units, both private and public in the future, which the Secretary said he thinks “enough.”
The Secretary’s stance could be summarised as resistance to compromise with a plan without the proper conditions in hand to materialise it.
“It does not make sense to open a tender when we only have some 200 houses available. I said in the past, August 3, that I will do big things and not small things, and for that we need to work on the law first,” Rosário said in reply to Ng Kwok Cheong’s questions about the government’s stance on the law and a potential public consultation on the matter.
The Secretary recalled that the law on social housing will be voted upon in the next AL session, after the local elections, and that the law of economic housing “could be discussed during the LAGs” at the end of the year.
Claiming that the will to act fast also has its limits, the DSSOPT Secretary said in reply to Melinda Chan’s comments about the population’s need to receive more information from the government that he is not trying to “deceive” legislators by committing to promises he cannot fulfil.
“That which I am capable of doing, I will do. That which is out of my reach, I won’t say I’ll do, while we do not have a timeframe to work on this agenda,” he said, supported by the head of the Housing Bureau, Arnaldo Ernesto dos Santos.
“For the time being, we can say that the quickest units to be available will be the ones on Avenue Wai Long,” Santos said.
Wai Long, with some 8,000 planned residential units, became available after the Ao Man Long case, according to a comment made by Au Kam San.
Rosário added that they expect to have the public housing units in the Mong Ha area ready by 2020, and that construction in Toi San for the private market would commence this year.
“In the short term, we will have more units available in the private sector,” the Secretary pledged.