Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac said on Monday the government needed to increase public investment to help boost the local economy amid its current downturn.
Leong made the remarks when attending a plenary session to present the government’s 2017 budget bill, which was unanimously passed by the legislature.
According to the bill, the government expects total receipts of 102.94 billion patacas next year, a 0.3 per cent decrease from this year.
Government expenditure next year is budgeted at 95.73 billion patacas, 10.69 billion patacas more than this year, up 12.6 per cent.
Addressing the legislature’s hemicycle, Leong also said he expected the government’s revenue from direct gaming taxes to amount to 70 billion patacas next year, the same as this year’s expected figure.
Leong said that the rise in budgeted expenditure for next year was mainly due to an increase in the government’s public investment plan (PIDDA).
According to Leong, next year’s PIDDA is budgeted at 15.26 billion patacas, 4.19 billion patacas more than this year, up 37.8 per cent.
Several lawmakers asked Leong why the government is increasing its expenditure when it expects its revenue to drop.
Leong replied that there was no need for the government to decrease its expenditure “proportionately” when its revenue drops. However, he was quick to add that the government should always use its money frugally, regardless of whether the city’s economic performance is good or bad.
Leong said that the three forces driving an economy – exports, investment, and consumption – had declined in Macau, particularly investment. He said that consequently it was necessary for the government to increase public investment, in order to enhance the “vitality” of the local economy.
Leong said that this was the reason why the government has raised its budgeted investment expenditure for next year.
“We believe it is likely that private investment in 2017 and 2018 will be less than in previous years. As a result, the government needs to increase public investment, so as to contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP) and to keep a stable labour market in Macau,” Leong said.