Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said on Wednesday he was“cautiously optimistic” about Macau’s economic future.
He made the remark during a press conference at the local airport Wednesday morning, before his flight to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the annual meeting of the third session of the 12thNational People’s Congress (NPC).
According to a statement by his office, during his three-day stay in the national capital Chui will meet People’s Bank of China (central bank) Governor Zhou Xiaochuan and senior officials of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and staff members of Macau’s representative office in Beijing.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac, who is in the capital as one of Macau’s 12 NPC deputies, will join Chui’s meeting with the head of the nation’s central bank.
The Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) revealedon Tuesday that Macau’s gross gaming revenue fell 48.6 percent year-on-year to 19.54 billion patacas last month.
Asked by reporters about the drastic decrease, Chui said that business cycles were inevitable and the drop in gaming revenue had been expected. He also said he expected the city’s casinos to generate a monthly average of 20 billion patacas in gross revenue in the foreseeable future.
When asked by reporters as to whether he was worried about the decline in casino receipts, Chui responded that he was“cautiously optimistic” about Macau’s economic development. He also said that everything was in line with the government’sprojections and that as the direction of the city’s tourism had shifted from casinos to resorts, the decline in casino revenue would have no effect on the government’s plan to talk to the central government about ways how improve the flow of mainland visitors to Macau, namely those travelling under the so-called individual visit scheme (IVS).
The scheme, which began in July 2003, allows travellers from now 49 mainland cities to visit Hong Kong and Macau on an individual basis. Prior to the scheme, mainlanders could only visit Hong Kong and Macau on business visas or group tours.
Chui said when he delivers his 2015 Policy Address later this month, he would announce adjustments to the government’seconomic targets for this year. However, Chui reaffirmed that this was all in line with the government’s projections.
He also said that the falling gaming receipts would have no impact on the government’s key expenditure items such as the 2015 budget item providing for an increase in government employees’salaries.
Chui also said his government would continue to work on the“adequate diversification” of the local economy. He said the ultimate aim was to turn the city into an international leisure and tourism destination. (macaunews/macaupost)