Our Desk | Policy versus Execution

Renato Marques

Mid-November is historically the time for the year’s review and assessment and, in regard to Macau, for the government to announce the new policies to be enforced in the upcoming year.
The presentation of the Policy Address (LAG) by the Chief Executive (CE) is always a moment eagerly awaited by the population, especially since the Wealth Partaking Scheme, best known as the cash handout, has been enforced.
People want to hear that the annual handout plan continues and they hope to hear that the amount will be increased in the coming year.
This year, many citizens’ hopes in the CE, Ho Iat Seng, fell short when, at the Legislative Assembly, Ho said that the scheme would continue to distribute the same amounts to permanent and non-permanent residents, but (there is a big but) that the method of distribution had not yet been decided, which the CE clarified later on that day.
Ho ‘s desk currently faces two options: to continue to distribute the “subsidy” in one lump sum via bank cheque or bank transfer, or via the method which has become popular in this pandemic year, consumption cards.
These options left many unhappy with the new government as, for many families in Macau, this is the 13th month of salary that they will not get from their employers. This means there is an increased likelihood that they might not be able to pay that late bill or buy that new computer for their kid’s school, a new sofa, or maybe do some repairs on the house, among the many other uses that you could well imagine.
The idea of changing this cash handout from one of free use to limited use and purpose has not gathered many favorable opinions. If it happens, it might be the first time since Ho took office in late December 2019, that the general public expresses unhappiness with the new government, which has until now been in a “State of Grace.”
But, going back to the original point, it was clear in previous governments that, on infrequent occasions, there are significant differences between the ideas of the policymaker (technically the CE) and the execution of such policies by the different officials and government departments.
Ho’s term started precisely with that idea in mind that it was necessary to fill that gap and turn the policy into effective work.
During the LAG2021, one thing that I remembered was Ho’s words regarding the series of events that the government is planning to hold in the next year to “revitalize the economy” so that Macau receives the visitors to the region well over Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year.
And if to “receive well” is the policy, I do anticipate a great amount of work for the upcoming months as the Grand Prix, held over the last weekend, was a good example of how not to receive well.
According to the official figures, a total of 50,000 people attended the event in the circuit stands, an impressive crowd in pandemic times that for sure was not discouraged by the current situation.
For example, under the famous Lisboa bend stand, which had people there in good numbers across the whole weekend, there was a single booth selling souvenirs and drinks. At the Reservoir area, the experience was even worse with only a single booth providing drinks. No food was available in the circuit’s public area and there was a single vending machine per spectators’ sector.
Why did this happen? I don’t have the answer, but I am sure that there are (many) small businesses in the Food and Beverage industry that have been severely wounded by the tourist crisis that sure could have taken this opportunity to pocket some patacas.

Categories Opinion