Gov’t forecasts higher gaming tax revenue in 2010

Friday, December 18, 2009
Issue 897, Page 3
Word count: 562
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Legislative Assembly yesterday approved the 2010 budget plan on final reading which showed that the government forecasts a growth in the direct gaming tax revenue.

The bill was passed unanimously on final reading, except Article 3 regarding the expenditure amount which was opposed by Au Kam San, Ng Kuok Cheong and Chan Wai Chi.

The three pro-democracy lawmakers were dissatisfied with the existing budget planning and execution system.

Ng pointed out that despite the government estimated that the expenditure for 2010 would be at some 44.64 billion patacas, the amount was instead shown at some 52.42 billion patacas in the bill.

The lawmakers had said on first reading of the bill late last month that it was a way to “avoid supervision”, as after the legislature approved the budget plan, the “surplus” (the difference between the two expenditure amounts) of more than seven billion patacas could be used by the government anytime without the consent of the Assembly.

According to the bill, the total revenue of the year 2010 is estimated at 52,422,348,500 patacas. It includes 33.8 billion patacas of direct gaming tax, up by 5.24 billion patacas when compared to the 2009 Budget.

Meanwhile, the SAR government plans to spend some 6.42 billion patacas on public investment (PIDDA) next year. Yet, the amount only reflects the projects which are already being committed by the government or needing to be implemented in the first quarter of 2010.

After the third SAR government takes office this Sunday, Fernando Chui Sai On will have to present a supplementary budget plan for 2010 in March, which may further increase the PIDDA amount.

In addition, the plan showed that the current tax reductions, bus concession scheme, electricity subsidies for residential units and financial aid for low income residents will be retained.

On the other hand, the lawmakers also unanimously passed the bill which will give special rights and immunities to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Macau Garrison when performing their duties.

These include priorities in border crossings, exemptions from paying taxes or fees arisen from job-related activities and the use of weapons.

Changes in Assembly’s auxiliary branch

President of the Legislative Assembly’s Administrative Committee Tsui Wai Kwan presented a bill at the plenary meeting to expand the existing special vocational system of the auxiliary branch.

The branch consists of the leaders, senior technicians, technicians, translators and interpreters, secretaries, technical support staff and professional technicians.

Tsui said the revision was to correspond with the recent changes in the civil service vocational system as part of the Public Administration Reformatory Plan.

For the Chinese and Portuguese secretaries, the bill proposed to add one more rank namely “principal director” in the promotion system.

At present, there are only four different ranks for the secretaries, from the bottom of “second grade”, to “first grade”, and then to “principal” and “director” eventually.

In addition, it was proposed that the salary points of “principal director” will be at respectively 505, 520, 535 and 550 depending on the levels.

None of the lawmakers posed any questions regarding the revision and they passed the bill on first reading unanimously.

At the end of the meeting, president of the Legislative Assembly Lau Cheok Va wished the lawmakers as well as reporters “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”, as the next plenary meeting will only be held after the New Year holiday in early 2010.

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