(Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

Economic recovery stable despite continued pandemic uncertainty – Secretary of Economy

Secretary of Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong stated today (Monday) that the increase in the number of tourist numbers in SAR and their duration of stay has been maintained in December, however many uncertainties remain concerning the recovery of the local economy in 2022.

“There was an improvement in tourist numbers and most of them now stay overnight for 3.3 nights on average, a longer period of time. We currently report some 30,000 visitors per day and if they are staying for longer it will be better for all sectors,” the Secretary said after a ceremony to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the Macau SAR.

From January to November this year, gross gaming revenue increased by 50 per cent year-on-year to MOP78.9 billion (US$9.8 billion) with tourist numbers rising 32 per cent to more than 6 million.

The improvement helped the local GDP to report a 27.5 per cent growth in the same period, however, economic indicators remain much lower than in pre-pandemic times when the city reported almost 40 million visitors per year.

Local authorities predicted the year would end with a total of MOP130 billion in gross gaming revenue, however, after outbreaks in the SAR and the mainland continued to impact visitor numbers, combined with the continuing shrinking of the VIP market pool, total results reached some 60 per cent of what was expected.

Lei also warned the trajectory of local economic recovery remains uncertain under the epidemic, with the SAR government continuing the effort to maintain the domestic demand market and ensure the further improvement of infrastructure so as to generate better employment opportunities in the construction industry.

Despite the downturn, the Macau SAR 2022 public budget proposes the continuation of several fiscal deductions and exemption policies, subsidies, cash handouts and adds two new tax exemptions for investment funds and donations for flooding relief in mainland China.

Secretary Lei noted that the electronic consumer card scheme repeated this year had led to a 30 per cent boost in local consumption but emphasized that it was a “temporary and not long-term measure” with authorities to study if there was the need to repeat this support measure.

The Macau SAR repeated another MOP8,000 worth of e-coupons to all local residents, aiming to boost the economy and stabilize local employment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stimulus plan injected around MOP5.8 billion into the local market between June and December in order to raise domestic demand.

Since the start of the pandemic, local authorities have repeatedly made adjustments to annual public budgets, recurring to some MOP100 billion from the vast local financial reserves to compensate for increased expenses in economic stimulus to counter the impact of the pandemic.

The local administration has also repeated the MOP130 billion estimate in gross gaming revenues for 2022, expecting some MOP45.5 billion in gaming taxes.

“For the budget calculations, we considered the results obtained already and consider the pandemic control measures. The overall recovery is now stable and gradually improving,” he added.,