Delays in obtaining government approval and the struggling world economy have sparked a construction slowdown in Macau. Parcels seven and eight of The Venetian have been placed on hold and the project's construction manager, Hsin Chong Construction Group, has confirmed a fall in demand for staff. Macau-based executive project director of Hsin Chong, Keith Buckley, said: 'I guess, like everything, construction goes through a sequence. It does not go on forever. The level of construction has to slow down because we can't go on building casinos forever in Macau, there simply is not enough room.' Hsin Chong employs 950 employees in Macau, from administration staff to project directors. The group has overseen the construction of more than HK$7billion worth of work in Macau, including the Venetian Macao casino and the Four Seasons Hotel. Work is still under way on parcels five and six of The Venetian project and piling work has been carried out on parcels seven and eight. At the peak of construction in Macau, the group was overseeing more than 11,000 staff, the majority engaged through contractors. Mr Buckley said human resources posed the biggest challenge of working in the enclave. Despite struggling to find qualified staff a year ago, he confirmed that many of the positions that had been advertised in the past few months were on hold. 'The demand has not been as strong because we are waiting on government approval to continue some parts of the project,' Mr Buckley said. 'Despite this, there are other major projects like the light rail that will be coming on line soon.' Assistant managing director of Hsin Chong, Law Wai-tai, said the company was waiting to see what happened in the coming months before deciding on a course of action. Mr Law said there had been a major slowdown in the government approval process following the corruption scandal that brought down the former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man-long. 'For parcels seven and eight we haven't really started yet, we have some staff there but not too many and, if the project is to be shelved for the time being, it will not be too difficult to absorb staff into other areas or move them back to Hong Kong,' he said. 'I think for the time being we need to wait and see what happens, it is not just a question of looking at what is happening with the US economy, there are political issues involved so it is hard to guess what will happen.' Earlier this year, Las Vegas Sands announced it did not have approval to develop the 22-hectare stretch of land across the road from its Venetian Macao casino on the Cotai Strip. More than 12,000 hotel rooms and retail malls are planned for the sites. Two Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts are being built on parcel five and St Regis and Sheraton hotels on parcel six. Serviced apartments and branded hotels, such as Hilton, Conrad, Fairmont and Raffles, are planned for parcels seven and eight. It is not uncommon for developers to start construction in Macau before gaining the necessary approval. Mr Law said despite things being uncertain in Macau, the outlook for the construction industry in Hong Kong was 'very bright'. Hsin Chong employs about 500 in Hong Kong, and the majority of technical staff employed in Macau were transferred from the Hong Kong office. 'Recruitment pressure in Macau may have eased but there are many projects in the pipeline in Hong Kong for the coming years,' Mr Law said. 'This will give us a lot of business and a lot of opportunities for our staff to be transferred to these jobs.' Mr Law said there was also a great deal of construction work expected to start in 2010 for the HK$40billion Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge. It is estimated the 29.9km, dual three-lane bridge will take more than six years to complete. 'Although the project is still on the drawing board, on the construction side, it will require many people,' Mr Law said. 'This is something that needs to be planned for, we have expertise and experience in bridge building.'