Wednesday, November 25, 2015   

Macau bets on winning system

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A colleague of mine visited relatives in Macau during the Chinese New Year holidays, and was impressed with the generous social welfare benefits enjoyed by its residents.

As revenue from the gaming industry continues to rise, it has become customary for the government to share some of this largesse with its people every year.

It has also begun introducing various enviable benefits for its people, ranging from housing to education.

One such benefit is public housing, a program that was only initiated in the former enclave when the depth of local feeling about unaffordable homes in a heated property market.

Now, the first batch of public housing has been completed, and my colleague's relatives will be moving into a unit soon.

This will benefit my colleague, too, when he visits next year, as he will be spared the ordeal of having to climb the five flights of stairs at the old tenement block where his relatives now live.

According to them, eligibility requirements for public housing are not too demanding. And if you are willing to wait, you will be able to get in sooner or later.

And as there are ample employment opportunities for the younger generation, life in Macau is comfortable.

My colleague likes to visit a noodle shop every time he goes there. He said its employees were happy even though they had to work during the holidays, as the government has asked employers to raise the level of wages.

The shop has been renovated, and my colleague was told that i
t was because the government has offered financial assistance to small businesses to upgrade their operations.

To Hong Kong's small business operators, hard-pressed by high rents and other operating expenses as well as various government fees and levies, Macau must seem like paradise.

With a relatively small population and as the only city in China with a legal and thriving gaming sector, the government there is cash rich and has been looking after its residents.

The people in Macau are not unlike the indigenous people in the United States, who have the privilege of running gambling operations outside mainstream legal regulations.

My guess is that a lot of Hong Kong people might prefer to live in Macau permanently. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily

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