The Legislative Assembly (AL) today (Friday) approved the 2021 budget which provides for an extraordinary injection of MOP26.6 billion (US$3.3 billion) from the financial reserve to counter the public administration deficit.
At stake is the increase in expenditure on public works and the loss of revenue from the gambling tax, with operators registering millions in losses due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
For the coming year, “there is a significant drop in revenues from the special gambling tax”, which normally represents around 80 per cent of total revenues, stressed the Macau Government, which accounts for 35 per cent of the gross amount of what is collected by casinos.
“The budgeted revenue for the 2021 economic year is not enough to satisfy the budgeted expenditure, being used […] the amount of the extraordinary reserve […] to maintain the financial balance”, justified the Secretary for Economy and Finance, recalling that “the economic situation will remain severe and needs a certain amount of time for its recovery”.
Lei Wai Nong stressed that next year’s Macao SAR budget “will continue to be […] in deficit, with the whole society having to be psychologically prepared to face this protracted war with regard to economic recovery”.
The total amount of revenue from the MSAR budget for 2021 is MOP96 billion, which already includes the amount of the financial reserve, with the expenditure reaching MOP95.2 billion.
The document was generally approved, but many deputies expressed concern about the capacity of this budget to respond to the needs of the population, especially in a context of economic crisis.
Macau was one of the first territories to be impacted by the pandemic.
Border restrictions and preventive measures have even led to the closure of casinos for about 15 days, with the gambling and tourism industry experiencing an unprecedented crisis in the midst of a recession.
A reality that forced the Government to proceed, in several phases, with an aid plan dedicated to helping the population and small and medium-sized companies.