Lawmakers ‘trust’ gov’t forecast for GGR

Lawmakers sitting on the Second Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL), where the 2023 Budget Law is being considered, believe that the government’s forecast for a Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) for 2023, estimated at 130 billion patacas, is possible, the chairman of the Committee, Chan Chak Mo said yesterday during a media briefing.

Questioned by the Times, Chan said that according to the government’s forecast, “we are going to have a better year next year,” he said, adding, “the government says that we might even reach a positive balance [on the government’s accounts] at the end of the year.”

Nonetheless, he admitted that the weight of the gaming industry and its results on the government budget outcome is crucial, noting, “if gaming does not recover it is going to be very difficult [to reach that estimated tax income from the government].”

In 2021, the GGR coming from local casinos was 86.86 billion patacas, a fact that resulted in a budget deficit that forced the government to turn to special financial reserves to balance the accounts.

This year and according to official figures from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), all months but February recorded further drops in GGR.

By the end of October, the accumulated GGR for 2022 stood at 35.72 billion patacas, that is, -50.5% when compared to 2021, anticipating a very poor result for 2022. For reference, at the end of October 2020, the same figure was 45.87 billion patacas in a year that closed with just 60.44 billion patacas of GGR.

Still, the lawmakers are optimistic that it is possible to reach a recovery point next year.

New year, same budget

At the press briefing at the AL yesterday morning, Chan admitted that there is nothing new in next year’s budget, noting that “since it is basically the same as this year, there are not many questions or matters to discuss,” he said, advancing that the analysis of the draft by the committee will likely be a very brief one with the bill to be ready for final voting on the second week of December.

“We are going to sign the final opinion [from the committee] on December 7 so the bill can go to plenary for final voting. It needs to be approved as soon as possible and certainly before the end of the year, otherwise our salaries won’t be paid on time,” the chairman of the committee said, adding that there were not many opinions or questions from the lawmakers on the bill except for the number of new staff members for the public services and government-owned entities.

As for the PIDDA (Macau government’s Investment and Development Expenditure Plan), Chan says to include 44 new projects mainly headed by the Land and Public Works Bureau, the Judiciary Police, and the Cultural Affairs Bureau, noting that most of them are pluriannual and, in some cases, extend until 2025. These projects include a total investment of some 2.8 billion patacas, which Chan said that the AL will closely oversee through the review committees.

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