Lawmakers unanimously passed an amendment bill on Wednesday on the government’s slimmed-down budget for this year.
According to the bill presented by Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac, the government now expects total receipts of 119.96 billion patacas this year, a 22.4 percent decrease from its original estimate.
He added that the government expects its 2015 expenditure to reach 83.76 billion patacas, an 0.05 percent increase from its original estimate.
Leong and several senior officials of his portfolio including Finance Services Bureau (FSM) Director Vitoria Alice Maria da Conceiçao attended Wednesday’s plenum.
Addressing the legislature’s hemicycle, Leong said that as gaming tax payments, the main source of the government’s revenue, had suffered consecutive decreases which were more severe than what the government had previously expected, it needed to amend its original 2015 budget which was approved in the legislature in December.
Leong said that due to the downturn in the gaming industry the government had lowered its expected income from direct gaming tax payments by 27.3 percent to 115.5 billion patacas.
The policy secretary also said the government decided to increase its expected expenditure for this year by 0.05 percent because it planned to spend 200 million patacas on a project in Zhuhai to ensure Macau’s steady supply of tap water.
After Leong’s presentation of the bill several lawmakers asked him and his fellow officials what the government would do to ensure that the city’s large-scale public projects such as the light rail transit (LRT) system are completed within their original budgets and how to ensure that lawmakers and the public are kept informed of the latest developments in the construction of the projects and how much public money is spent on them.
Leong pledged that he will keep his four fellow policy secretaries fully updated on the budgets of all the entities under his portfolio.
He also said he understood that as the policy secretary in charge of public finances he “cannot be capricious” when using public money.
The bill will now be reviewed in detail by a standing committee of the legislature, after which an article-by-article vote will be held in another plenary session.
Meanwhile, Leong clarified during Wednesday’s plenum that the government planned to invest about 10 to 20 billion patacas from its financial reserve in projects run by the provincial government of Guangdong and in an investment fund initiated by the central government for Portuguese-speaking countries. (macaunews/macaupost)