Chief executive candidate Ho Iat Seng said on Sunday that his future government will spend public money “wisely” with the aim of ensuring that public expenditure is always on the right track.
Ho, 62, made the remarks during a Q&A session with residents – a public meeting hosted by his campaign office – at the headquarters of the Macau Chamber of Commerce (ACM) in Zape.
Sunday’s session was the second and last public meeting. The first session was held on Saturday at the same venue. The chief executive election will take place next Sunday. Ho, the only candidate, must win more than 50 percent of the votes cast by the 400-member Chief Election Committee to be elected Macau’s next head of government.
Sunday’s session, which lasted about two hours, was attended by some 150 residents. A total of 20 participants were chosen by lucky draw to ask Ho questions during the Q&A session on issues such as education, urban renewal, health care, housing, youth development, traffic, and community facilities.
The 20 participants raised their questions one at a time before Ho replied to them all in one go.
A male resident surnamed Lao said that residents want the government to stop its widely perceived practice of spending public money in an “extravagant” way. Lao urged Ho’s future government to make good use of Macau’s public financial resources.
Ho noted that the government’s budgeted expenditure for this year amounts to 100 billion patacas. Ho pledged that his government will place special emphasis on reviewing the way public money is being spent.
Ho said the future government should not reduce its expenditure on matters for which money should be spent, while it should reduce expenditure on matters for which money should not be spent, adding that this should be the principle on how the government should wisely spend its money.
‘No bias in favour of business sector’
A female resident surnamed Lei criticised the Macau government for implementing polices that seem to favour the business sector, and for not building any subsidised home-ownership scheme (HOS) flats during the first decade after Macau’s return to the motherland in 1999.
Ho said that while he is from the business sector, his future government’s policies will not be biased in favour of the business sector. Ho said that his future government will implement policies that comply with the interests of both businesspeople and residents in general, and policies that make it easier for businesspeople to run their businesses and make daily life more convenient for residents in general.
HOS price issue
Ho also said it would be impossible for the government to sell HOS flats at a price of 1,500 patacas per square foot, as Lei suggested. Ho noted that the sheer construction cost of an HOS flat already amounts to 2,000 patacas per square foot.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Lei complained that the government is currently selling HOS flats at a price of 3,000 to 4,000 patacas per square foot, which she said was very expensive.
Ho indicated that if the government were to sell its HOS flats at a price below the sheer construction cost it would virtually “pay back some money” to the buyers. He said that this would be unfair to all the residents whose HOS applications have not been accepted by the government.