Government closely monitoring development of local housing market

The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Leong Vai Tac, meets the press.

The Government is continuously monitoring the local housing market and would evaluate the effectiveness of the recently-launched measure that amends homebuyer mortgage terms.

The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Leong Vai Tac, told reporters on Monday (5 June) that the Government did not intend to launch at the moment any further housing-related measure, adding it would be prepared to do so if it were deemed necessary.

Since 5 May a measure had been in place to tighten mortgage-lending conditions both for non- first-time resident buyers and non-resident buyers that purchase a residential property or enter into a pre-purchase agreement for an unfinished flat.

Mr Leong said the Government had not been able to judge the effectiveness of the policy, due to the short period of time that had elapsed since it was implemented, and the varied schedule applicable for launching private housing projects.

The Government had conducted a number of studies with a view to ensuring a healthy development of the local housing market and to understanding how to ensure housing prices were affordable. The Government was aware of varied opinions in the community regarding measures to curb perceived overheating of the housing market, including amendment to the tax system applicable to house purchases.

In comments on other matters, the Secretary said it was necessary to increase equipment and manpower in casinos to ensure their security, and to protect further the safety of the public, employees and tourists in entertainment facilities.

The Government paid great importance to the issue of security at local tourism sites, including casinos, he said. The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and the Judiciary Police held a meeting on Sunday (4 June) with representatives of gaming operators to discuss how to strengthen security in casinos.

The gaming operators would each submit a report within a week and the Government would assess if the measures in place are enough to ensure safety at entertainment facilities, he said.

Mr Leong additionally noted that May gross gaming revenues saw a 23.7 percent year-on-year increase, to a total of 22.742 billion patacas. Mr Leong said the high percentage growth was as a result of a low base of comparison, since May 2016 recorded the lowest revenues for that month since 2011. However, revenues from gaming last month still fell short compared to the equivalent month in the period 2011 to 2014.

Gaming revenue was just one of the things to evaluate if Macao’s economic performance was to be maintained in a steady way, with modest growth, he added.

A number of figures indicated the economy was improving as the economic structure underwent changes. They included: a 10.3 percent year-on-year growth in gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2017; exports of services that saw a year-on-year increase of 13.4 percent – within the latter category, exports of gaming services and other tourism services grew by 11.3 percent and 20.9 percent year-on-year respectively.

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