TEXT Christian Ritter
Macao’s outgoing Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On stressed socio-economic progress during his 10-year term at a speech made to the Legislative Assembly on 12 November.
There may be a new Chief Executive sworn in during the 20th anniversary celebrations in Macao on 20 December – Ho Iat Seng – however, on Tuesday 12 November, it was a time to reflect on the progress made under outgoing CE’s 10 years at the helm of the local government. Fernando Chui Sai On spoke from the Legislative Assembly’s hemicycle as he told politicians that over the past decade, the city has been able to keep up social and economic progress, ensuring political stability, improving people’s livelihoods, speeding up infrastructure developments and maintaining social harmony.
Fernando Chui Sai On, whose term ends at midnight on 19 December, is Macao’s second Chief Executive, becoming so in December 2009. The 62-year-old, who served as the city’s Secretary for Social and Cultural Affairs between 1999 and 2009, has given many policy addresses over his 10 years, however the speech on 12 November focused on the government’s work this year and budget proposals for next year. Chui also highlighted his two-term government’s achievements since he became Chief Executive.
During the address, Chui pointed out that he had discussed his budget proposals for next year with Ho – and that the incoming CE had agreed with them. Ho’s government is slated to present its 2020 budget bill to lawmakers early next year and Chui said that his government team had drafted its budget proposal in accordance with the Macao Basic Law and the Budget Framework Law with a view to ensuring Macao’s stability and the normal functioning of the public service. Chui also predicted that the SAR’s financial reserves will reach MOP 627 billion (US$77.8 billion) at the end of this year.
In the budget proposals presented by Chui, the government suggests the continuation of existing tax relief measures, such as the 30 per cent exemption of personal income tax, with the basic allowance set at MOP 144,000 (US$17,868), and the 60 per cent rate of personal income tax, subject to a ceiling of MOP 14,000 (US$1,737). The personal income tax allowance for employees aged 65 and over – and for employees with disabilities – amounts to MOP 198,000 (US$24,569). Among the other measures to continue are waivers for business taxes, vendor-licence fees, stamp duty on life or non-life insurance and restaurants’ exemption from tourism tax.
Chui, who holds a PhD in public health from the University of Oklahoma in the USA, also proposed that the government’s socalled ‘wealth-sharing’ handouts continue next year, MOP 10,000 (US$1,241) for each permanent resident and MOP 6,000 (US$745) for each non-permanent resident. He added that the next government would continue to offer a wide range of subsidies and allowances for the elderly, disadvantaged households, low-income full-time employees and all those who need help.
At the address, Chui said that his government had made good progress in implementing the 2016-2020 Five Year Development Plan of the Macao Special Administrative Region, with a 90 per cent completion rate by the third quarter of this year. He said the aim of his 10-year term was to achieve long-term stability for the SAR. He added that 2019 was a milestone for him and his team, pointing out that the Taipa line of the Light Rapid Transit system will open soon and that sovereign bonds were recently issued in Macao for the first time. He also said that the progress achieved during the past decade had been largely due to the strong support of the central government in Beijing and the wisdom and effort of the Macao people. He described Macao’s financial situation as ‘solid’.
Chui said his 10 years of experience as Macao’s head of government had proved that the proper, persistent and comprehensive implementation, based on unswerving confidence, of the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ was the key to ensuring the long-lasting stability of the SAR. He also said that only by safeguarding national sovereignty, state security and focusing on development could Macao’s longterm stability and prosperity be promoted and maintained.
The people of Macao were thanked by Chui, who has been an active member of many community organisations over the years, including president of the Juvenile Staff Committee of Kiang Wu Hospital and director of the Macao Eye Bank Fund, as were local civil servants as well as the central government and its representative offices in Macao for their support during his decade-long tenure. He underlined his government’s commitment to getting more public housing projects off the ground and the further consolidation of patriotic education. He stressed that the SAR continues to enjoy public order before emphasising his government’s various measures to turn Macao into a ‘smart city’ and tackle its transport issues.