Professors support cash handout reduction

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Issue 1172, Page 2
Word count: 642
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Professors from the University of Macau (UM) have backed the Government’s decision to cut down the amount of cash handouts in 2011, stressing that the scheme is a provisional measure that cannot benefit civilians in the long run.

The university’s Centre for Macau Studies (CMS) invited 10 professors from various faculties to discuss the 2011 Policy Address in a two-hour symposium yesterday.

Hao Yufan, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities and acting director of the CMS, said the policy blueprint is “all-rounded” and has summarised the work of the Macau Government in the past year as well as informed the public what it plans to do in the year ahead.

Hao disagreed with some comments which criticised the lack of livelihood measures such as the reduced amount of cash handouts. “The development of the gaming industry over the recent years has brought problems to society including healthcare, transportation, housing and resources allocation. The measures proposed by the Government may not meet the expectations of some local people and therefore they are not satisfied with the Policy Address,” Hao said.

However, he pointed out that specific measures are missing concerning how to promote the convention and exhibition and the cultural and creative industries’ development, and also to reinforce cultivation and training of talents.

As a higher education institute, Hao said the university previously expected that the Policy Address would include a larger content about the Macau education sector.

Meanwhile, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration and chair professor in finance, Jacky So Yuk Chow, said in the discussion that it is a “very big improvement” for the Government to inject MOP 6,000 into each of the permanent residents’ central saving accounts.

“It’s a long-term investment and it can provide protection for residents after they retire. Money that is handed out to the people will be spent immediately,” So said.

He added that it is a political decision of the Government to maintain the cash handout scheme next year, despite the reduction of the amounts by MOP 2,000 to MOP 4,000 for permanent residents and by MOP 1,200 to MOP 2,400 for non-permanent residents. “It’s what we call ‘to buy public vote’,” he added.

Interim head of the Department of Communication, Agnes Lam Iok Fong, said she also supports the gradual withdrawal of the cash handout scheme and the transfer of it to the central saving system.

However, she said that the public is not happy with the reduced cash amounts because they still have no idea about the specific details of how the central saving system is going to operate.

Eilo Yu Wing Yat, assistant professor in public administration, also agreed with his colleagues, pointing out that it required the Government “a lot of courage” to cut the cash handout amounts, especially in times when “public discontent is furious”.

“It’s a political means […] But of course I still think that the Government should not have handed out cash to local people in the first place,” Yu said.

Academic manager of the CMS, Lin Guangzhi as well as full professor of public administration Liu Bolong both stressed that handing out cash to residents is a temporary measure to ease the living pressure and it will be more beneficial to move it to the social security net.

On the other hand, Lin Guangzhi said the Policy Address failed to announce a schedule of when Macau is to become a world travel and entertainment hub, and also did not sufficiently touch on Hengqin development and closer cooperation with Zhuhai.

Senior administrative officer of the Centre for Continuing Education and chairman of the Economic Sciences Association, Joey Lao Chi Ngai, also said the blueprint should have talked more about how Macau could participate in the development of Hengqin Island, and how to revitalise the world heritage in order to promote economic diversification.

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