Macau’s Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On (pictured), said 2015’s cash handouts for permanent and non-permanent residents would only be decided after closing the accounting procedures for the current year.
Mr Chui said the government would again consider sharing the fruits of the city’s economic development with Macau residents depending on this year’s fiscal surplus.
The government has estimated that this year’s cash payment will have cost MOP5.65 billion (US$707.3 million). More than 590,000 permanent residents each received MOP9,000 and over 61,000 temporary residents each received MOP5,400.
The amount paid to individuals this year was the highest since cash handouts began in 2008.
The government has indicated however that the deciding factor in the handout amount was not annual incremental increases in payment but the size of the government’s annual fiscal surplus. This year the increase in surplus might be smaller than in previous years because of the slowdown in casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) growth.
The Macau government collected a total of MOP90.9 billion in direct taxes from gaming during the first eight months of 2014.
The figure is up by 11.1 percent from the same period one year ago, according to data from Macau’s Financial Services Bureau. The growth has slowed from that seen in the first half of the year, which stood at 16 percent.
That is a result of a drop in casino GGR growth, which has been falling since June and dropped by 11.7 percent year-on-year to MOP25.6 billion in September.
The gaming tax rake up to August 31 accounts for 77.1 percent of the government’s MOP117.85-billion target for revenue from direct taxes from gaming for the whole of 2014.
Direct taxes from gaming brought in 85.0 percent of the Macau government’s total revenue in the first eight months of 2014. The importance of gaming taxes for the Macau government has been increasing in recent years, as the city’s casino industry booms.
Total government revenue for the first eight months of 2014 was MOP106.9 billion. Government spending amounted to MOP34.9 billion, meaning Macau ended the period with a surplus of MOP72.4 billion, up by 6.4 percent from a year earlier. In the first eight months of 2013, the government’s surplus was up by 30.3 percent from the previous year.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr Chui noted the near 12-percent drop year-on-year in GGR last month, although he indicated he was not worried by the development. The city’s chief executive said that after rapid growth in recent years, the gaming industry is now entering “a period of adjustment”.
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Alvin Chau Cheok Wa
Chief executive of privately-held VIP junket business Suncity Group