The enclave's growth has been phenomenal, but a dire manpower shortage is the result Liberalising Macau's casino market has turned out to be both a gold mine and a Pandora's box for the special administrative region. In the second quarter of this year, GDP grew an astonishing 47.5 per cent year-on-year. This is not even attributable to a low base in 2003 caused by Sars. Compared to the second quarter of 2002, it has climbed 46 per cent. John Chan Wai-leong, executive director of the Airport Management Company (CAM), says such economic growth is usually seen in a country where oil was newly discovered. 'I challenge you to find another developed country with this rate of growth,' he says. Macau's 15 casinos paid 9.25 billion patacas in direct gaming taxes in the first eight months this year, an increase of 50.3 per cent from last year. The vibrant gaming sector has propped up not only the tourism and hospitality sectors, but also the property market, construction, retail and transportation. But Macau's boom is bringing worries to some. A dire manpower shortage is by far the biggest concern. Not only does Macau lack the professionals to manage hotels, casinos and restaurants, but office managers are complaining that when a photocopier breaks down, a repair worker has to be brought in from Hong Kong. Traffic congestion has become a daily annoyance, and some residents question whether the opening of the third Macau-Taipa bridge will really solve the problem. Hotel rooms, currently numbering 9,000 in total, are perpetually full. Despite the fact that 1,200 new hotel rooms are expected to open by next summer, some analysts doubt whether Macau will be ready to host international events, including the Pacific Asia Travel Association convention and the East Asian Games, each of which are expected to attract more than 2,000 delegates to the city. Even as Macau residents marvel at how the multinational companies are bringing new life to the city, local enterprises in Macau fear they might be left out. Large enterprises are driving up wages and cutting the best deals with suppliers, they say. 'We need the government to understand how much the manpower shortage is affecting us, and how limited the liquidity channels are for small enterprises in Macau,' said Kong Mei-fan, vice chairman of the Macau Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.