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2023 Policy Address outlines steps to boost the economy while preventing COVID-19

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, delivers the Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2023 at the Legislative Assembly.

The Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Government will focus in the coming year on boosting the economy, fostering economic diversification, relieving livelihood hardships, preventing and controlling COVID-19, and promoting steady overall development of Macao.

This is according to the Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2023 – entitled “Making Progress Jointly while Ensuring Stability”, which was announced this afternoon by the Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, at the Legislative Assembly during a plenary meeting.

Before introducing the major policy agenda outlined in the Policy Address Mr Ho gave an overview of the work done by the Government in the past year. Steps included: pragmatically facilitating economic diversification; improving social well-being; deepening public administration reform; promoting the development of a liveable city in phases; coping with COVID-19 proactively; providing financial relief for citizens and ensuring employment; stepping up efforts in safeguarding national security; and pressing ahead with development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin.

The aforementioned efforts had been implemented in accordance with previously-announced plans, and had achieved the intended results, said Mr Ho.

Looking forward to 2023, the Chief Executive noted that the Government would strive to: bolster economic recovery; enhance steady growth; improve the jobs market; perfect the mechanism for normalised epidemic prevention and control; optimise social services; steadfastly safeguard national security; maintain social stability; and make new strides in the development of the Cooperation Zone.

In the coming year, the Government will be committed to seven major fronts:

1. Expediting economic recovery and boosting adequate economic diversification. Based on the prerequisite that COVID-19 is under control, the Government will effectively provide its assistance regarding policies linked to resumption of application for electronic travel permits by mainland China residents wishing to visit Macao, and for the resumption of package tour groups from mainland China to Macao. Such steps would be in a bid to revitalise the tourism sector. The Government will also enhance publicity for promoting Macao as a safe travel destination, and open up new source markets domestically and abroad regarding inbound tourism.

The Government will increase various investments in public infrastructure with the aim of stimulating domestic demand and revitalising the economy. The preliminary 2023 budgeted amount under the heading Investments and Development Expenses of the Administration is 22.3 billion patacas.

Regarding support for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, the Government will continue to help them grasp the opportunities arising from the development of the non-gaming business sector.

The Government will adopt the "1+4" adequate diversification development strategy to enrich Macao’s function as "One Centre" for integrated tourism and leisure, while facilitating the development of four nascent industries, namely the Big Health industry; modern financial services; high technology; and conferences and exhibitions, commerce and trade, and culture and sports.

The Government aims gradually to increase the non-gaming sector’s contribution to Macao’s gross domestic product to about 60 percent in future.

Regarding talent development, the Government will speed up the cultivation of local talent, facilitate the return of Macao’s overseas talent, and proactively import talent required by Macao’s economic diversification.

2. Enhancing infrastructure construction and jointly build a liveable, smart city. The Government will commence detailed urban planning for Outer Harbour Area-1, Outer Harbour Area-2, and Northern District-1.

It is expected that the link connecting Hengqin Checkpoint to the University of Macau will be completed by the second half of 2023, along with the Barra terminal of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system. The Government will expedite the construction of the Seac Pai Van Line, the Hengqin Line, and the East Line of the LRT, and press ahead with the completion of the Central Testing Building of the Islands Medical Complex.

The Government will improve traffic management, promote new public projects, and expedite the development of Macao as a smart city. The Government will proactively implement the electric vehicle promotion plan, to help build a liveable and green Macao.

The Government will work towards ensuring implementation of the carbon peak and carbon neutrality policies set by the Central Government, by requesting the city’s bus operators to phase out the “Euro IV”-standard public buses, and to increase to about 70 percent the proportion of public buses that are powered by so-called ‘new energy’ sources. Meanwhile, an import ban on all disposable plastic knives, forks and spoons will be put into force in 2023, to reduce further the use of plastics.

The Ka-Ho Reservoir expansion project (phase 2) is scheduled to be completed by either the end of 2023 or early 2024.The Government will step up efforts in disaster prevention and mitigation, to increase Macao’s resilience to adverse conditions.

The Government will upgrade municipal leisure facilities, and enhance management of maritime areas.

The Government will strive to complete as soon as possible the documents regarding maritime zoning and planning of maritime areas, as well as work on legislation regarding the uses of maritime areas.

3. Multiple measures to benefit people’s well-being and improve social well-being and livelihoods. The Government will continue implementing various welfare measures and temporary incentives on tax, as implemented during 2022, to ensure no reduction in resources for education, healthcare, livelihoods, and social welfare.

The Government will safeguard the prioritising of employment for local citizens by continuing the Subsidised Training Scheme and the online job matching platform; and will flexibly adjust the number of non-resident workers in Macao, in response to market conditions.

In 2023, the Government will implement in an orderly manner the policy vision of “a five-rung housing ladder”. The Government will facilitate the construction of the Venceslau de Morais and New Urban Zone Area A public housing projects; launch a new round of applications for the Home-Ownership Scheme Housing; complete the research on the Avenida Wai Long sandwich-class housing scheme and the related legal system; complete on schedule the project to construct a housing complex for the elderly; and allocate, via public tender, suitable land for private buildings.

The Government will promote urban renewal, and press ahead with construction of temporary housing.

The Government will also improve the quality of medical services; improve services for the elderly by gradually promoting smart care for them; support policy matters relating to women and children; and promote the introduction of family-friendly policies.

The Government will gradually promote a market-orientated development of the tertiary education sector, and improve the infrastructure for non-tertiary education.

The Government will formulate plans to build an aggregate of eight schools and one education centre in New Urban Zone Area A. The Government will enhance youth development work in order to help the younger generations to integrate into overall national development. The Government will proactively partake in preparations for the 15th National Games.

4. Furthering public administration reform to continuously improve governance capacity. With an aim to build the public administration’s capacity for highly-efficient, service-orientated work – for the convenience of the public and businesses – the Government will step up effort regarding public administration reform. This includes clarifying public departments’ areas of competence and their obligations, and optimising the distribution of functions. The Government will review and perform any necessary reorganisation of project-team functions and of the public administration structure, while also intensifying e-governance development.

Additionally, the Government has plans to start issuing in the fourth quarter of 2023 next-generation Macao identity cards.

The Chief Executive mentioned increased effort to coordinate the promotion of legislative work, and to strengthen regional and international legal and judicial cooperation, while maintaining judicial independence, optimising the integrity of administration and audit systems, and improving the legal system for supervision of public assets.

5. Unswervingly safeguarding national security and maintaining social stability. The Government will further strengthen the sense of a holistic view of national security, while staying highly vigilant in terms of safeguarding the sovereignty, safety, and development interests of the nation, and firmly preventing any attempts by external forces to intervene in Macao’s internal affairs.

2023 Policy Address outlines effort to perfect the legal system for safeguarding national security, and fully support the National Security Affairs Adviser and National Security Technical Advisers in performing their duties in accordance with the law. In addition, the Government will devote further effort to strengthening national security enforcement capabilities.

The Government will continue the publicity and education work regarding the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the Basic Law of the MSAR, and the Law on Safeguarding National Security, with an aim to strengthen patriotic forces.

In 2023, the Government will strengthen the use of technology in policing and enhance cyber security monitoring; promote civil protection reform; and implement the new version of the Civil Protection Master Plan.

6. Firmly advancing the development of Hengqin, better integrate Macao into national development. The year 2023 will be of great importance in terms of realisation of the first phase of construction development of the Cooperation Zone.

The MSAR Government will work closely with the Guangdong Government to press ahead with advancement of the integration, in the Cooperation Zone, of legal systems and mechanisms, in a bid to promote profound integration between Hengqin and Macao. Also, the two sides will complete in stages the comprehensive legislative work for the Cooperation Zone; and expeditiously introduce supporting regulatory measures and tax policies for “tier-specific management”.

The 2023 policy blueprint details the Government’s vision to facilitate the quality development of modern financial services; high and new technology; Big Health; and exhibitions and conventions, and commerce and trade.

In addition to ties with Hengqin, Macao will assist in deepening the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area; actively participate in the "Belt and Road" initiative; and enhance Guangdong-Macao, Pan-Pearl River Delta, Beijing-Macao, Shanghai-Macao, and Sichuan-Macao cooperation.

7. Persevering in COVID-19 prevention and control, and building a robust disease-prevention system. The Government will ensure Macao’s epidemic prevention and control policy is consistent with the country’s overall policy.

The Government seriously consolidated during the “18 June” outbreak, its experience in dealing with epidemic situations. The Government will enhance the city’s epidemic prevention and control capabilities; optimise the infectious disease prevention and control facilities; perfect regional joint prevention and control; and continue strengthening the epidemic prevention system. The Public Health Specialist Building is expected to be inaugurated in 2023, to provide strong support for the prevention and control of infectious disease.

In 2023, the Government will continue to enhance the COVID-19 vaccination rate, especially for the elderly and children, as well as promoting among the general public the importance of booster shots. Macao will continue to ensure normalisation of epidemic prevention and control on three major fronts, namely the city’s boundaries, in medical institutions, and within the community.

In today’s session, the Chief Executive noted that Macao had experienced various challenges and ups and downs, during the course of its development. In time of adversity, concerted effort displayed across the community, and the Macao public’s spirit of mutual help, had led eventually to progress and advancement. The motherland was always the backbone for Macao, introducing various preferential policies and measures to support Macao’s development, Mr Ho added.

The MSAR Government would spare no effort in seizing opportunities arising from the country’s development; make best use of Macao’s special advantages and special positions; persist in accelerating adequate economic diversification; proactively take part in the country’s new phase of development; pragmatically promote advances in the Cooperation Zone; and give better play to Macao’s role in the country’s development, stated the Chief Executive.

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