The adjustment in the amount of gross gaming revenue generated by Macao’s casino sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic was within the Government’s expectation, said the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Lei Wai Nong.
The Government was confident that the local economy would have a robust upturn once the disease outbreak had been controlled, Mr Lei told reporters on Thursday (2 April) following a plenary session of the Standing Council on Social Concerted Action.
Gross gaming revenue recorded in March for the casino sector was just over 5.25 billion patacas, representing a year-on-year decline of 79.7 percent.
The Government had no plan to suspend casino operations, the Secretary additionally said in his Thursday comments. Casinos in Macao were required under the terms of their concession contracts to operate round-the-clock, year-round unless the operators received special permission to do otherwise.
Mr Lei went on to say that Macao’s effort to contain the novel coronavirus from spreading within the community had been effective. The next phase of work – once it was confirmed that the associated COVID-19 disease had been stopped – would be how to attract more tourists and stimulate the local economy, he added.
At that stage, the Government would ask the Central Government to consider restarting the country’s facilitated individual travel scheme, in order to enable more mainland residents to visit Macao, he said.
In his remarks to reporters, the Secretary mentioned the Government’s staunch effort regarding ensuring the employment of local residents. He noted the six companies that are either gaming concessionaires or sub-concessionaires had assisted the Government in that regard.
Mr Lei also noted there had been about 1,100 applications to the Labour Affairs Bureau by individuals seeking a certificate of proof of their unemployment. As of 1 April, the Government had received 27 notices from companies indicating intention to reduce staff salary. Such reduction involved an aggregate of 417 employees drawn from 19 companies in, respectively, the wholesale and retail sector, the transport and communications sector and storage services.
Since 17 February, the Government had facilitated more than 600 employment-matching sessions for those seeking a job. Also, there was currently a total of 1,520 vacancies available in the construction sector, in addition to employment opportunities available in the Government’s large-scale infrastructure projects. Such projects had a total investment value of 13.6 billion patacas, and were to be initiated in a phased manner. The Government was also mulling the next phase of a paid occupational training scheme, in order to broaden the skills and capabilities of job-seekers.
The Secretary also commented on journalists’ questions regarding the Government-proposed 10-billion-pataca fund. Mr Lei said the Government was analysing opinions from the community regarding how to ensure employment; boost the economy; and enhance the livelihoods of local people. Some forms of protection for self-employed individuals were also to be included in the fund proposal, Mr Lei said.View gallery