Casino workers might be left out of public housing

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Issue 1086, Page 3
Word count: 547
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) is hoping the Government can relax the income limits which are likely to be imposed on affordable housing applicants in the future, so that local casino workers, who account for a significant proportion of the labour force, will not be left out.

The federation held a forum yesterday to discuss public housing affairs in Macau.

Deputy secretary-general of FAOM and member of the Government’s Public Housing Affairs Committee, Kong Ioi Fai, said the federation supports the introduction of an income ceiling on new affordable housing applicants to ensure public resources are be used properly, but deems the MOP 12,000 cap which has been proposed for one-member households to be “relatively low”.

Following the rapid development of the gaming industry, as of the end of 2009 there were 44,020 local people working in the sector, according to the official statistics.

Of them, 18,274 were croupiers and 12,040 worked in the exchange counters, gaming floor inspection or supervision, cash or telephone betting.

These employees, the statistics showed, made an average income of MOP14,820 in December 2009.

“This middle income group has become the sandwich class since their income exceeds the MOP 12,000 income ceiling but they also can’t afford to buy a home in the private real estate market,” Kong said.

He said that since tougher requirements are expected to be put in place for affordable housing owners to resell their units, including the prolonging of the resale restriction period and requirement for the owner to pay back part of the price difference to the Government, “basically the situation of property speculation will be prevented”.

Hence, Kong said he believed that the majority of the affordable housing buyers in the future will be those who truly need the apartments. “It’s necessary for the Government to raise the income limits in order to look after these middle income workers.”

On the other hand, the FAOM does agree with the Government’s intention to process the existing affordable housing waiting list without imposing the income ceilings on the 12,000 households.

However, Kong said although these residents will not be affected by any of the new application requirements, it is still uncertain when they can be allocated an affordable housing unit.

Besides the 880 units already built near Rua da Tranquilidade in the Hipódromo Neighbourhood, he pointed out that the Taipa TN27 and the Ilha Verde Neighbourhood Lot 4 projects are still in the stage of forming the land foundation at present.

“Even after these two construction projects are completed the supply won’t be able to satisfy all the existing households on the waiting list,” Kong said.

The top priority of the Government, he added, is to finish the revision of the affordable housing legislation as soon as possible, and to disclose the proportion of affordable and social housing units in its 19,000 public housing unit target plan.

Kong also stressed that as long as the 12,000 households have not purchased any property or had not benefitted from the Government’s home purchase interest subsidy scheme, they will remain eligible to be allocated an affordable housing unit.

“It’s not their fault for being unable to live in public housing, but the Government barely built any of it in the past decade. It’s a matter of responsibility,” Kong added.

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