Macau residents get record 8,000 pataca handout
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on's policy address sweetened with 8,000 pataca giveaway
Macau residents will receive their biggest cash handout next year since 2008 - 8,000 patacas for permanent residents and 4,800 for non-permanent ones, Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on said in his policy address yesterday, in which "Macau people, Macau land" was mentioned for the first time.
The city will spend a total of about 9.8 billion patacas on various subsidies, compared with 8.6 billion patacas last year.
The annual cash subsidy for the elderly will be increased from 6,000 patacas to 6,600, and each permanent resident will receive a 600 pataca coupon for medical services, up from 500 the year before.
Subventions for students have all risen. University students will receive 3,000 cash handout, up from 2,000 before, while primary and secondary school pupils will get 2,400 patacas - up from 1,900 last year. Children in kindergarten will get 2,000 patacas, compared with 1,500 last year.
The income tax deduction will be increased from 25 per cent to 30 per cent, and the exemption amount is 144,000 patacas. Meanwhile, 60 per cent of the income tax paid this year will be refunded in 2014. The maximum refund is 12,000 patacas.
Including other tax exemptions, the Macau government will receive 1.6 billion patacas less in tax revenue.
The government also announced that it would start accepting applications again for public housing in the first quarter of next year.
Any person with a monthly salary of 19,355 patacas or less, or a family of two making less than 38,710 patacas, can apply for economic housing units, which are small, subsidised apartments. Chui said 80 per cent of Macau residents were eligible to apply.
"Macau people, Macau land is a concept that has been raised by many sectors in Macau, especially because of the soaring property prices," Chui said.
Macau lawmaker Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong explained that the idea of "Macau people, Macau land" was to ensure that housing to be built on five pieces of land now being formed by reclamation would be earmarked only for Macau permanent residents until 2049. Macau is reclaiming 360 hectares by 2015.
The policy has echoes of the Hong Kong government's restriction on the sales of some flats only to permanent residents.
Another lawmaker, Au Kam-san, said the subsidies answered some public needs, but he could not see any concrete measures to improve the economy or enhance government efficiency.
"The measures for promoting Macau's economy are clichés. The part about enhancing the government's efficiency only accounts for two pages of the whole policy address. The government does not know how to develop other industries."