Despite the push for diversification of the economy, the MSAR’s Chief Executive responded negatively to legislator enquiries on the possibility of making higher education free for residents, noting that “every year if we have a sufficient number of graduate students – that will imply an equilibrium of the labour market”.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On, in the plenary session yesterday at the Legislative Assembly in which he responded to interpellations from 30 legislators, stated that providing free higher education to students “could have the effect that we desire or by being over-protective it will affect their competitiveness . . . [stating] . . . We should see if it’s advisable or not to push them to pursue their studies.”
With regard to a question about using the land occupied by the Yat Yuen dog racing track for potential transitional housing for students posed by Legislator Angela Leong On Kei, the Chief Executive reiterated prior comments that “it [the land] won’t be for any commercial or hotel use – only for education and leisure”.
The legislator is also involved in the company that runs the dog racing track, as well as being Executive Director of local gaming operator Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM).
The Chief Executive said the results of the land use would be better defined after the release of the results of a study commissioned on housing and land use, set to come out “in September” of this year.
This study would also be the basis for dividing up land to be used for social and economic housing as well as gauging whether to reinstate a housing subsidy discontinued in 2010.
The Chief Executive had prior to Legislator Leong’s query stated “we hope that through the diversification of the economy we can also achieve our objective and reinforce the non-gaming elements in the gaming,” negating that the government would set up a more direct method to share the proceeds of the gaming revenues generated by the local casinos.
“Observing the idea of equilibrium of salaries and the life of the population is one of the most important factors in how the government shares its resources,” observed the MSAR’s top official, stating that “the essential is having a prudent management of these funds and not directly giving the revenue to the population”.
Some of the most common themes in the near-four hour session were the Greater Bay Area, public housing and health, with the Chief Executive expressing that the MSAR is working with regional authorities to “create more facilities for the circulation of goods, people and capital” in the Greater Bay Area.
Suggestions for the MSAR’s contribution to the Mainland initiative revolve primarily around the city acting as a financial leasing centre, in line with the One Belt, One Road, suggesting: “Our financial sector can also grant loans to the countries that need to develop their infrastructure, developing this financial leasing sector in line with the One Belt, One Road initiative”.
The CE also mentioned “taking advantage of this to promote the training of local talent, satisfying the necessities of the sectors”, citing a study by the Talent Development Committee “on how to train local talent and import talent to Macau.”
With regard to the operation of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the top official stated that the results of a public tender for the shuttle bus service to operate on the bridge would be divulged “mid-August,” while a car park set to house “3,000 light vehicles and 2,000 motorcycles” would be set up on the Macau side of the crossing.
Apropos public housing, the Chief Executive assured that part of the newly reclaimed land would be used for its purpose, pending the results of the study, while as for whether to institute universal public health care for local residents “we have to see whether the population is interested in going for this universal healthcare system”.