Local Gov’t budget for 2020 to require an extra MOP20 bln injection to face expenses – CE

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng stated today (Thursday) that another proposed amendment – the third this year – will likely be made to 2020 government budget so as to add an extra MOP20 billion (US$2.5 billion) from local financial reserves to balance the budget in the face of reducing public income from gaming taxes.

Speaking after his first speech as CE for the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China celebration event, Ho indicated that the city’s overall income is still very low and will be unable to fully recover until the end for the year due to the pandemic.

Local gross gaming revenues have dropped by 82.5 per cent year-on-year to some MOP38.6 billion between January and September.

Meanwhile, the Macau SAR government has collected a total of MOP22.8 billion in gaming taxes between January and August, less 70.1 per cent than in the same period last year.

The current crisis has led to two adjustments to this year’s proposed budget, with local authorities previously lowering estimates for the expected gaming tax budget by half to about MOP50 billion, and adjusting expected government total budget revenue to MOP115.4 billion and expenses to MOP114.6 billion.

Today, Ho Iat Seng added that the local government is under “great financial pressure” and that the MOP38.9 billion allocated from fiscal reserves previously to balance the budget will only be enough to support the administration until October with the extra MOP20 billion injection needed for November and December.

In its 2021 government policy guidelines and budget, Ho Iat Seng had indicated that services and public bodies must consider the evolution of the current economic situation and ‘evaluate their various expenditures with care’, with a 10 per cent cut administrative expenses proposed for next year.

Ho also highlighted today that the SAR government has not reduced expenses on social welfare and civil service salaries, while medical expenses have also increased, and that even a 10 per cent as proposed for 2021 would be difficult.