The government does not have a timetable to amend the law on illegal accommodation, an amendment that anyhow could not be solely initiated by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO)since it would require co-ordination with other government bureaus, MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said yesterday.
Any amendment bill would have to be submitted to the Macau Legislative Assembly (AL) for debate and vote before it could take legal effect.
According to The Macau Post Daily, Senna Fernandes made the comments after attending a press conference about the two-day Global Tourism Economy Forum which will be held from next Wednesday at the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre. The press conference, co-hosted by Senna Fernandes, Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture Chief-of-Cabinet Cecilia Cheung So Mui and Pansy Ho Chiu King, the forum’s vice-chairperson, was held at the Tourism Activities Centre (CAT) in Zape.
The law on illegal accommodation, which took effect three years ago, prohibits providing visitors with accommodation in properties that do not have a hotel or guesthouse licence, except if based on a tenancy contract. According to the law, those who provide illegal accommodation face a fine of 200,000 to 800,000 patacas.
In the two and half years since the law came into effect until February this year, there have been 119 prosecutions in which offenders were fined, but only seven of them paid the fine, according to previous media reports.
When asked if the government would amend the law to make it a more effective deterrent amid public discontent with the law’s perceived leniency, Senna Fernandes said that MGTO officers wereenforcing the law in collaboration with other public bodies such as the Public Security Police (PSP). She also said that implementation of the law involved a number of bureaus so that her office could not take the initiative without co-operation from the other bureaus to revise the law.
When further asked by reporters if the government would propose an amendment bill next year, Senna Fernandes declined to answer, merely saying there needed to be a consensus first among the bureaus concerned with enforcing the law. She vowed that her office would combat illegal inns as much as possible under the current law.(macaunews)