Corruption in China

More ports planned for booming Macau

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am

The Macau government plans to build one or two more ports to meet growing demand for transport services caused by the soaring number of tourists.

At a Legislative Assembly question-and-answer session yesterday, Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah said that current air and sea transport was insufficient.

Although the government had already earmarked resources to expand existing piers and to install automatic customs checking systems, Mr Ho said these were only short-term measures. He did not propose a specific date by which the new ports should be built, saying only that one or two more ports would be needed in the long run.

Mr Ho was responding to legislator Chan Chak-mo, who criticised the government for slow progress on improving transport infrastructure. He also said there might be good reason to revise the land laws, as they were complex and some might not have kept pace with development.

Lawmakers have expressed concerns about possible loopholes in the land laws, which have been widely discussed during former public works minister Ao Man-long's trial for corruption. Mr Ho assured legislators that all public works projects had to undergo appropriate approval procedures regardless of their cost.

'The 6 million [patacas] is only a benchmark for financial approval,' Mr Ho said.

Ao told Macau's Court of Final Appeal last Wednesday that he had to seek Mr Ho's approval for any public project worth 6 million patacas or more.

Pro-democracy legislator Au Kam-san attacked the government for selling land to developers at unreasonably low prices against the public interest.

Mr Ho dismissed the accusation, saying land prices had risen significantly in recent years and the increase shown on developers' asset accounts did not necessarily mean the government had sold the land too cheaply.

Mr Ho repeatedly said there had been surging conflicts in Macau society, citing increasingly mature electoral politics as one of the reasons.

Despite a robust economy led by the growing gambling industry, he said the city still needed to face various challenges, including the poverty of low-skilled workers and relatively low government efficiency.

Mr Ho also said the government held an open attitude toward a statutory minimum wage.