Lobby group petitions for more public housing, less imported workers in 2009

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Issue 519, Page 2
Word count: 543
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The New Macau Association yesterday submitted a petition to the government headquarters which called for more public housing construction and a cease to non local labourer imports in the 2009 Policy Address.

According to Jason Chau Teng Hei, a member of the democratic lobby group, the SAR government should adopt measures in response to social and economic changes in Macau as prompted by the global financial turmoil.

The Association urged the authorities to “concentrate resources” on building public housing. Mr Chau said Macau’s GDP was among the top in Asia but the proportion of public housing was “exceptionally low”.

In Singapore and Hong Kong, public housing tenants accounted for respectively 86 percent and 50 percent of the total number of households, Mr Chau said, adding Macau’s was below 25 percent after suspending public housing construction for years.

Also, the number of families on the waiting list had already exceeded 20,000, which the Association said showed that the economic growth in recent years did not “actually improve the housing burden of grassroot and middle-class families”.

However, Mr Chau pointed out that the five-year construction plan of the government could only provide 19,000 units, and said that once new applicants were accepted the discrepancy would be “even wider”.

Thus, the government was petitioned to allocate more land resources such as the 58,738 square metre Coloane Concordia Industrial Park which has been abandoned for decades in the reclaimed zone near Estrada de Seac Pai Van in order to supply at least a total of 40,000 public housing units by the end of 2010, Mr Chau said.

On the other hand, the lobby group once again urged the government to protect local workers’ employment opportunities by stopping approvals to imported labourer applications especially for non skilled positions.

The number of non local labourers in Macau had already exceeded 100,000 which Mr Chau said was a “severe blow” to local workers’ employment conditions, particularly at times when the global economy was sliding down.

The three measures to curb growth of casinos’ pit supervisors, construction workers, cleaners and security guards which were announced in early October were not “comprehensive enough”, the Association said, adding a “solid imported labourers withdrawal system” still remained uncertain.

Thus, the Association said the government had to immediately freeze the expansion of non local labourers especially the new applications of non skilled workers in casinos.

At the same time, under the influence of the financial downturn, Mr Chau said more local youth with high education qualification were expected to return to or stay in Macau for their career which would be “a chance” to develop human resources.

However, the Association pointed out that Macau did not have any professional certification system and thus graduates could not obtain professional qualification which Mr Chau said was “a waste” of local talent.

The SAR government was also petitioned to set up the financial reserve system and the “dual society security system” in 2009.

Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah will deliver the Policy Address for 2009 which is the last year of his term in the government on November 11 at the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Ho reportedly met with representatives of different social sectors in the past week to obtain suggestions and opinions for next year’s policy blueprint.



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