Some migrants birthing charges to increase 3 times, not 9

The raise in baby delivery fees for non-resident domestic workers at the public hospital will be hiked three times and not nine times as previously considered, Secetary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam said during two meetings yesterday with migrant worker groups, though it remains unclear whether he indeed meant domestic workers or non-residents at large. He also said that non-resident workers who find it difficult to pay childbirth fees might benefit from financial assistance provided by the Social Welfare Bureau.

According to Tam, the latest proposal from the government will see natural births for some non-resident women at the public hospital raised from MOP975 to MOP2,925, while caesarean sections will increase from MOP1,950 to MOP5,850.

Migrant worker groups in the territory hailed the new proposal as an improvement.

Yosa Wariyanti of the Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union, who had been vocal in opposing the hikes, said yesterday the revised policy was “good news because the increase is not as high as the previous one.”

At another meeting, Benedicta Palcon of the Greens Macao Migrant Workers’ Association affirmed that the Secretary’s announcement is “better than the original one.”

“This is fairer because the Secretary said the government is planning another mechanism for the other non-resident workers, who cannot afford the fee,” she told the Times.

It is not clear what price hike will be applied to non- resident women who are not domestic helpers.   

Palcon and Wariyanti both said that the government did not consult with their associations before announcing it would hike birthing fees late last month.

“I think he [Alexis Tam] should have consulted with groups like us before deciding [the increase],” said Palcon.

Last month the government said it had sought approval from other local organizations, including the Macau Federation of Trade Unions, the Macau General Union of the Neighborhood Associations, and the Women’s General Association of Macau.

Meanwhile, birthing fees for tourists at the public hospital are still expected to rise ninefold to as much as MOP17,550 for natural deliveries and MOP35,100 for caesarean sections. DB

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