Animal Farm | A balance of payments that doesn’t pay my doubts

Albano Martins

I cautiously read the data released by AMCM regarding the 2020 and 2019 Balance of Payments.
At the beginning of September, I contested the quality of these values in an email sent to AMCM and also directly to AMCM’s President.
The text I sent is pretty much the same as the one I use now in this piece.
Unlike DSEC who were kind enough to explain, attempt to refute or even accept my positions – and this has happened several times in my life – AMCM has been quite silent.
What then is my question on the Balance of Payments disclosed by AMCM?
Well, one is best not to remind the devil of an item in this Balance called “Errors and Omissions”. Whether referring to 2019 or even to 2020 it was huge, although in this last year it is much smaller.
In 2019 the estimates for the Balance of Payments made by AMCM had errors and omissions amounting to -60.3 billion patacas! In 2020, this figure was 29.5 billion!
Common sense teaches that these values should always be residual, and it is not acceptable for them to be that high.
When errors and omissions are high, it means that the flows that should be included in the balance are not controlled in even a minimally acceptable way, or quite questionable, or even wrong, methodologies are in use.
Giving just one example that can be taken from the net itself, in Portugal the weight of errors and omissions regarding its goods and services balances was only 4.3 and 6.1 percent in 2020!
In Macau, this weight in 2020 was 45.6 and 48.8 percent.
For an economist who must interpret these data, which are fundamental for any economy, one is immediately left with the feeling that such numbers do not lend any credibility to the values of the flows that have been identified.
As I mentioned, at the beginning of September, I called AMCM’s attention, without any response, to the use of the values of exports and imports published by DSEC in the GDP figure in 2020 and used by AMCM in this estimate.
These values are substantially higher than those referred to in the ECEM (Statistics of External Merchandise Trade) of DSEC, whose credibility I questioned of DSEC and continue to question.
As I referred in a previous article, regarding exports, its GDP figures in 2020 were about 2.36 times higher than that of ECEM, which is not minimally acceptable when explanations were simply based on assumptions that some imports were so high that they would have necessarily been sold (exported).
How is it possible that in a period of general pandemic, with restrictions on the entry and exit of visitors, a substantial reduction in visitors (-85%), in hotel occupancy for visitors (-72.5%), a sharp drop in visitor expenses (- 81.4%), with such a sharp drop in gaming (-79.33%) and a huge recession (-56.3%), the likes of which have never been seen in the history of Macau, there is room for an assumption that several imported goods have been exported, meaning sold to non-residents?
Never in Macau’s history have the exports of goods, in terms of GDP, been of this magnitude, which, moreover, occurs in a year in which the pandemic has profoundly affected the growth of economies in general. If this value were aligned with those of the ECEM, or even a little bit higher as has occurred in the past with adjustments, but not so absurdly high,, the fall in Macau’s GDP in 2020 would have been much greater!
And who knows if this correction would not have made the “Errors and Omissions” of the Balance of Payments disclosed by AMCM come to tolerable values?

Categories Opinion