Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said yesterday his government would apply to the central government to lease more land on Hengqin Island, which, if approved, would be used for local enterprises to develop their business there.
He also said he believed if more local enterprises set up their business on the island this would be beneficial for the diversification of Macau’s economy.
Chui made the remarks during yesterday’s Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle.
All the 33 members attended the plenary session.
During the session, which lasted for about three hours with a 30-minute break, 27 lawmakers asked Chui prepared questions on a range of issues including regional co-operation, the city’s housing problem, labour issues and the influenza virus.
Customarily, lawmakers can ask Chui prepared questions on a range of issues in the hemicycle three times a year, in April, August and November. The one in November is the chief executive’s policy address for the following year.
In responding to questions raised by directly elected lawmaker-cum-businesswomen Angela Leong On Kei about what the government would do to improve regional co-operation and diversify the city’s economic structure, Chui said that the government would continue to support traditional industries to modernise, as well as provide support to medium- and small-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop their businesses elsewhere.
Regarding regional co-operation, Chui said that the local and Zhuhai governments have continuously worked together on the joint development of Hengqin Island.
The government said in a statement earlier this month that it has recommended 33 local projects to the Hengqin authorities which – if accepted – would be allowed to set up businesses in the 4.5-square-kilometre joint venture Guangdong-Macau Co-operation Industrial Park on the adjacent island.
The Guangdong-Macau Co-operation Industrial Park is a five-square-kilometre joint venture site in Hengqin which includes a 0.5-square-kilometre Traditional Chinese Medicine Industrial Park.
“As the government acknowledges that many local enterprises hope to set up business on Hengqin…the size of the industrial area is not enough thus we will formally submit an application to the central government for more land [in Hengqin to allow] local enterprises to develop their business on the island,” Chui said, adding the government would ask the central government for its permission to lease more land in Hengqin.
Currently, the local government leases 1.09 square kilometres in Henqin for the new University of Macau campus. The Macau government will pay 1.2 billion patacas for the leasehold which will last until December 19, 2049. The contract can be renewed.
“I hope both Guangdong and the central government will agree [to the idea]… meanwhile we will further discuss with the Guangdong government the possible joint development of Cuiheng [in Zhongshan] and Jiangmen,” Chui added.
Chui also said that the government has also applied to the central government for jurisdiction over Macau’s coastal waters.
“Macau has no jurisdiction over its coastal waters … [the government] hopes to be given jurisdiction…The central government replied that it has started studying the matter,” Chui said, adding that the government is doing its best to increase its land reserve.
Unlike Hong Kong, for historical reasons Macau does not have jurisdiction over its coastal waters. This is due to the fact that Portugal was never able to sign a Macau border agreement with China.
Meanwhile, according to a statement released by the Government Information Bureau (GCS) last night, Chui has already formally requested the central government to lease more plots of land in Hengqin. (macaunews/macaupost)