Addressing a Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle on Thursday, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac said that a more diversified economy would help young local people enjoy better career choices.
Leong made the remarks when answering a question by directly-elected lawmaker-cum-businessman Chan Meng Kam, on the first of a two-day Q&A session about his portfolio’s policy guidelines for next year.
Leong and several other senior officials of his portfolio attended Thursday’s plenum in the Legislative Assembly’s hemicycle.
During Thursday’s five-hour Q&A session complete with a 30-minute break, lawmakers raised concerns over the development of the city’s gaming industry, economic diversification, regional co-operation, labour issues and how to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as young entrepreneurs to develop their businesses.
Chan questioned how the government could ensure the continuation of a strong gaming industry while pushing for the city’s economic diversification.
Responding to Chan’s questions, Leong said that a more diversified economy would provide young people with more job opportunities.
“The major purpose of diversifying the city’s economy is to enable young local people to have better career choices, regardless of whether they are starting their own business or joining the job market,” Leong said.
Leong said while the government would strive to support “emerging” industries in its drive to diversify the city’s economy, it would continue to consolidate the city’s main sector as well.
“The drive to diversify the city’s economy does not mean that we are going to phase the gaming industry out,” Leong said, adding, “The gaming industry and non-gaming elements are not mutually exclusive.
“In the government’s drive to diversify the city’s economy, we need to consolidate the industries in which we have advantages, including the gaming sector, we also need to foster emerging industries – finance leasing, yuan financial products, wealth management, the convention and exhibition industry, cultural and creative industries, logistics industry and traditional Chinese medicine,” Leong said.
“While we need to ensure that the city’s gaming industry is always competitive globally, we will also continue to work on the non-gaming elements,” Leong said.
Leong said the data showed that convention and exhibition visitors are high-spending tourists, which he said would benefit local SMEs and boost the “vitality” of the local economy.
Meanwhile, responding to questions from directly-elected lawmaker Ho Ion Sang and appointed lawmaker Sio Chi Wai, Leong said that developing financial businesses with “special features” would help Macau become involved in the nation’s development strategies.
Ho and Sio asked Leong how the government would promote the development of financial businesses with “special features”, as stipulated in the policy guidelines.
Leong said that Macau had its own advantages of developing the finance leasing business, because it continued to have political stability, free capital flow and no foreign exchange controls with a simple, low taxation system, apart from being a separate customs territory.
Leong said that developing the finance leasing business would help Macau become involved in the central government’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.