Top state leader Zhang Dejiang stressed the need for Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, to diversify its economy, at the start of his three-day visit to the former Portuguese enclave.
Speaking on the tarmac next to children waving flowers and a red banner welcoming his arrival, Zhang, who is China’s number three official in charge of Macau and Hong Kong affairs, said Macau has made “brilliant achievements” since the handover in 1999.
“But now Macau faces an important stage as it makes a transition in its development,” Zhang said, adding the central government has strengthened its support for the special administrative region this year.
Zhang, who is chairman of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, will inspect various industries and meet with lawmakers during his visit.
He did not specifically address the gaming industry during his five-minute speech, but China’s government has previously stated policy goals for Macau which include becoming an international leisure center and a platform between Portuguese-speaking countries and China, the news agency said.
According to the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, gross gaming revenue in April grew 16.3 percent from a year ago to 20.2 billion patacas (US$2.52 billion).
Given that gaming accounts for about 50 percent of Macau’s GDP and directly contributes around 80 percent of government revenues, the sector’s marked recovery provides a significant boost to the city’s GDP growth and budget, Moody’s Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd. said.
“It also underscores the credit-positive effectiveness of diversification policies aimed at ensuring more stable and sustainable growth in GDP and public finances,” Moody’s analyst Matthew Circosta said.
Gross gaming revenues have been increasing on an annual basis since August 2016, boosted by the opening of two new casinos late last year and a recovery in tourism from China.
Reports indicate that tourism arrivals continued to rise strongly during the Labor Day holiday period.
“Because of the recovery in gaming, we expect real GDP growth of 2.5 percent in 2017, following a sharp recession during 2014-16,” Moody’s said.
Ahead of Zhang’s visit, Macau authorities announced new measures to monitor withdrawals at ATMs with facial recognition technology, as the Chinese territory seeks to further tighten restrictions on cash flows out of the mainland, Reuters said.
Zhang is scheduled to meet members of Macau’s legislative assembly, according to the Macau government. Macau is due to hold a Legislative Assembly election in September.
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