Surging costs for living

The Special Administrative Region is ranked as the 12th costliest city to live in the Asia Pacific for 2016, a survey finds, adding that local living costs recorded the highest growth among countries worldwide in the past five years.
According to the survey on cost of living published by global consulting firm ECA International on Wednesday, the overall living costs in Macau are the 27th most expensive among 450 locations around the world for this year.
“Macau has climbed 10 places in the regional rankings this year to make the regional top 15. Macau saw the largest rank increase in the Asia Pacific region in 2016,” the survey indicated, adding the city’s global ranking had also risen by 57 places compared to its 84th place back in 2012.
According to the consulting firm, such surveys are conducted on the basis of “a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by assignees,” covering food and basic and general items, such as household goods, leisure and recreational services, clothing, meals out, alcohol and tobacco. However, accommodation costs are excluded.
The chairman of Macau Economic Association, Joey Lao Chi Ngai, told Business Daily yesterday that the city’s consumer price index has been hinting that the overall living costs in Macau are outpacing most other locations worldwide.
“Despite the fact that the city’s economy has entered an adjustment phase, and while Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has fallen for some 18 months, we can see that our inflation rate has still been hovering at some three per cent for the past few months,” he told us on the phone.
Mr. Lao added that an inflation rate of around three per cent, even though much lower than the 5 to 6 per cent that Macau recorded few years ago, is still quite a high number compared to many other places.
“The consumer price index usually lags in reflecting the economic situation of one place. As such, we are still posting inflation despite the fact that our economy has been going downward,” the economics academic said.
According to official data of the Statistic and Census Service (DSEC), the city’s inflation rate was 3.5 per cent year-on-year for the first four months of the year. In particular, the overall prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco surged by 38.2 per cent compared to the same period last year, while transportation costs also jumped by some 6.95 per cent year-on-year.

Tokyo most expensive in the region
The capital city of Japan, Tokyo, is ranked as the most expensive city to live in Asia Pacific for this year, followed by Hong Kong – which climbed two places from last year’s fourth most expensive city.
But China’s two tier-one cities, Shanghai and Beijing, which were the two most expensive cities to live in the region last year, both dropped by two places to the third and the fourth costliest cities in this year’s rankings.
“We have seen a small depreciation of the renminbi against the yen and HK dollar over the past year, and this has led to Shanghai and Beijing falling below Tokyo and Hong Kong in the rankings,” the Asian regional director of the consulting firm, Lee Quane, remarked.
“However, this does not truly reflect the general trend seen in China over the past five years with locations in Mainland China averaging a 54 place increase in the global rankings over this time period. It is likely that major Chinese cities will remain expensive destinations for mobile executives for the foreseeable future,” the analyst added.
Globally, Kinshasa of the Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked as the costliest location, followed by four Swiss cities, Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern. Meanwhile, Tokyo and Hong Kong are ranked as the seventh and the ninth most expensive cities to live in the global rankings, respectively.