Considering that the city’s average monthly gross gaming revenue continues to exceed the 20 billion patacas threshold stipulated by the 2015 Budget Amendment Law, there is no need for the implementation of austerity measures for the time being, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac said in a written statement released by his office on Monday.
Leong, whose portfolio includes supervision of the gaming industry, made the statement in response to Monday’s announcement by the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) that last month’s gross gaming revenue reached 18.6 billion patacas last month and 140.259 billion patacas in the first seven months of the year, resulting in average monthly casino receipts of 20.037 billion patacas between January and July.
However, Leong acknowledged that there existed “great uncertainties” concerning the gaming industry’s development in the second half of the year.
The policy secretary also said that if the gross gaming revenue happened to fall under the 20 billion patacas threshold later this year, the government would “immediately” implement its promised austerity measures.
Leong pledged that the possible austerity measures would, however, not affect the government’s spending on residents’ wellbeing. He said this included the government’s wealth-sharing cash handout scheme and public investment projects budgeted for this year.
The cash handout is currently being paid out to residents.
The statement quoted Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On as saying recently that the government’s finances are “stable” and its financial reserves “sufficient” to tackle any “unexpected incidents or situations triggered by economic fluctuations.”
The statement pointed out that the 2015 Budget Amendment Law foresees a surplus of 18.8 billion patacas for this year as long as the gaming industry’s gross revenue amounts, on average, to 20 billion patacas a month during the year.
The government receives nearly 40 percent of local casinos’ gross receipts in the form of direct taxes and other dues.
The statement also said that the government would “rigorously monitor” the city’s six gaming operators, namely its VIP business segment, to tackle any unexpected situations and, as a matter of priority, to protect local employees’ rights and interests.
Leong also promised to continue the government’s efforts to promote the local economy’s “adequate” diversification by supporting non-gaming businesses and young entrepreneurs.