Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On Tuesday called for residents’ understanding for their annual cash handout next year remaining unchanged at 9,000 patacas, adding he hoped a 6.75 percent increase in public servants’ salaries could take effect on January 1.
He also said that according to some surveys his performance over the past five years was a “pass”, adding that the government would pursue a step-by-step approach towards political reform.
Chui made the remarks during a press conference which lasted about half an hour at Government Headquarters after attending a plenary session of the Legislative Assembly to give a summary work report on his first five-year term which will end at midnight on December 19.
Due to upcoming changes in his cabinet, Chui and his five policy secretaries will not, as customary, present the government’s policy guidelines for next year to the legislature this month.
In March, Chui will present his 2015 Policy Address when his new team of policy secretaries will present their respective portfolios’ plans to the legislature.
During the plenary session in the legislative hemicycle, which lasted about 45 minutes, Chui also announced the 2015 budget in which the government plans to increase public servants’ salaries from 74 patacas to 79 patacas per salary point, an increase of 6.75 percent.
The government’s proposed salary increase for its 28,000 employees will have to be passed by the legislature.
Public servants’ salaries were raised 5.71 percent in May.In September, Macau’s inflation rate stood at 5.82 percent.
Tuesday’s plenary session did not include a question-and-answer session for lawmakers to raise questions on Chui’s work.
A banner calling for the start of political reform in 2015 erected by grassroots lawmakers Antonio Ng Kuok Cheong and Au Kam San was on display throughout the meeting.
Chui also said his government would continue to pay its annual “wealth-sharing” cash handout next year. However, he said the handout would remain unchanged at 9,000 patacas for permanent residents and 5,400 patacas for non-permanent residents next year, the same as this year’s amounts.
Chui also said that the government would put 7,000 patacas into each permanent resident’s Central Provident Fund account, a 16.6 percent increase from this year’s “injection”.
Shortly after his wrap-up in the legislature, Chui gave a press conference at Government Headquarters.
During the press conference, which lasted about 30 minutes, 10 reporters from the local and mainland media raised a raft of questions involving different topics such as the city’s shortage of local manpower, the possible extension of the opening hours of the city’s border checkpoints, the current decline in casino revenues, as well as traffic, housing, political reform and government expenditure.
Before the reporters raised questions, Chui said that he would not comment on his new cabinet and the performance of his current five policy secretaries.
“I need to wait for an announcement from the central government…then I will meet the media at once,” Chui said.
Being asked by reporters as to whether it would be “unfair” to the general public to give public servants a 6.75 percent salary increase while keeping the amount of the annual “wealth-sharing” handout unchanged, Chui said that regarding the proposed salary increase for public servants his government had considered a report submitted by a government-appointed public administration salary assessment commission, as well as factors such as the rate of inflation, public servants’ purchasing power and the salary level of private sector employees.
“We hope the salary increase will be implemented on January 1…according to an initial estimation, the government’s surplus will be about 70 billion patacas. Therefore we’ll keep on implementing a string of measures to share the fruits of economic growth with the public. The government has a surplus thus there will be a cash handout, [7,000 patacas will be put into each] person’s Central Provident Fund [account] and [13.5 billion patacas will be put into the Social Security Fund (FSS) to ensure] senior citizens’ pensions. I hope the majority of residents will understand why the amount of the cash handout will remain at 9,000 patacas [for permanent residents],” Chui said.
Being further asked whether the government will start political reform next year and if there will be a timetable and roadmap for universal suffrage Chui said that the government had to move towards a democratic society in line with the law in general and the Macau Basic
Law in particular.
“The future government will continue to listen to public opinion… and the opinions of the majority should be respected,” Chui said, adding that all opinions the government collected in 2012 about how the city’s political system and the elections of the chief executive and the legislature should develop had been submitted to the central government.
He stressed that the central government has the right to initiate political reform and also has the final say on the matter.
Asked by reporters as to whether his government will come up with new measures to tackle the city’s skyrocketing property prices and whether the government has new public housing plans, Chui admitted that property prices “are quite high”.
“There have been fewer property transactions…we hope [the property sector] will enter an adjustment period,” Chui said.
Chui also said that he and his team would continue to develop the economy and improve people’s livelihoods.
Next year’s budget will amounted to 154.6 billion patacas, up just 0.6 percent from this year’s. Total expenditure is budgeted at 83.7 billion patacas, resulting in a surplus of 70.9 billion patacas.(macaunews/macaupost)