Broader horizons in targeting new visitors to Macau, keeping the city a safe place for tourism, and, above all, exploring the advantages of “Tourism+” are the priorities identified by the Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong to promote economic recovery in 2022.
Lei named these three factors at the Legislative Assembly (AL) last Friday, where he was to discuss with lawmakers the Secretariat’s policies for the coming year.
“For the next year, we should guide ourselves in three ways. Expanding our tourist and visitor source [markets] by having a more proactive attitude and a greater initiative in attracting [them],” Lei said. In addition to presenting Macau as a safe city for tourism and worldwide travelers, Lei added that “We […] also [must] provide more personalized services for our tourists. That’s why we have this policy of ‘Tourism+’.” The Secretary noted that “Tourism + Sport” is the first concept to be presented and ongoing, but that are other areas of “Tourism+” are to be explored “to provide more experiences and services to the visitors coming to Macau.”
Likewise, Lei expressed hope that Macau would be reopening its borders “to the world” in 2022.
“Next year we will do better to contain the epidemic and so, probably, we will be able to open the borders and receive more friends from around the world,” Lei said in his initial presentation, noting that “now we have a close negotiation between the three parties, the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, so we are quite confident about the future.”
Population wellbeing will be accounted for
In a session where many questions about government support measures for the population were raised, the Secretary emphasized that the wellbeing of the population is being addressed and is one of the government’s priorities in the economic recovery efforts.
According to Lei, the government is hopeful that, as soon as the vaccination rate increases and social activities resume, “economic development can return to normal.”
Regarding the measures enforced during 2021, Lei said that the government’s priority remains the population’s wellbeing, which is why, despite a downturn in government revenue, it has continued to support the population through several rounds of financial supports, as well as ensuring guaranteed priority access to jobs for residents are in place.
For 2022, Lei said the government is mobilizing an extra 30.3 billion patacas from the government’s financial reserves to address the visible impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic upon the economy. He added that another 18.3 billion will be injected into the Government Investment and Development Expenditure Plan (PIDDA). Lei said he believes that this money “[will] increase domestic demand, revitalize the economy and create more employment opportunities.”
E-consumption policy dropped for good
When asked by lawmakers about the abandonment of the electronic consumption policy for 2022, the Economy chief explained that it was an exceptional measure for a very exceptional moment, and confirmed that another round of financial support through this avenue is not expected.
“Don’t forget that the consumer card [was created] just for a very extraordinary situation. The consumer card cannot be a long-term plan because we have to deliver to the market what it is lawful[ly] deserved and the government must not interfere too much in the market,” Lei said, justifying the measure’s abandonment with the market’s need to regulate itself according to free-market rules.
Replying to questions regarding the difficulties faced by the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector, which are the significant majority in Macau, the Secretary also added that the closure of companies and businesses takes place in all kinds of markets and is a normal market regulation procedure which should not worry the government too much.
“The role of the government is to provide the basic [economic] rules that allow businesses to establish themselves,” Lei said, hinting that “saving” companies from bankruptcy is not one of these duties.
“There are some who enter the market and there are others who leave the market. This is all very natural. The most important duty of the government is to build well the ‘stage’ where these [companies] can perform,” he said. “When people are running a business, they have to take into account their situation and also [evaluate] the whole market environment and circumstances [that can pose a risk or provide opportunities to their business].”
Instead of blaming all on the pandemic, Lei placed the focus on the managerial skills and capacities of the people running companies through times of crisis. He reiterated that “better times” will come soon for those that have been able to overcome the difficulties of the pandemic, who have found “creative” ways to continue to run their businesses instead of relying solely on the government to solve their problems.