Macau to give residents about US$375 in cash
AFPHONG KONG -- Macau will give all permanent residents a handout worth about US$375 to address concerns that the city's poor are not benefiting from its booming gambling scene, the government said Thursday.
April 22, 2011, 9:43 pm TWN
Chief Executive Fernando Chui announced the cash giveaway — 3,000 patacas (US$375) for permanent residents and 1,800 for non-permanent residents — as the city posted a 41.8 billion pataca budget surplus last year.
Macau, the only city in China that allows casino gambling, has become the world's biggest gaming hub with US$23.5 billion wagered at its tables last year.
But there have been concerns about the growing income gap in the former Portuguese colony, despite the billions of U.S. dollars pouring into its gambling industry. It has a population of just over 550,000.
The announcement comes after nearby Hong Kong announced a HK$6,000 (US$770) cash handout to adult permanent residents and salary tax cuts following a huge fiscal surplus for the last financial year, which ended March 31.
In a legislative session Wednesday, Chui told Macau lawmakers the cash is aimed at helping counter high inflation, a government spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.
He said the decision to spend 1.7 billion patacas on the “wealth-sharing scheme” was made after taking into account the city's surging inflation and the government's large budget surplus.
It is the fifth time the city has given cash handouts to residents since 2008, the spokeswoman said.
Chui also announced the introduction of a special stamp duty to help curb property speculation.
Properties bought and sold within a year of purchase will be subject to a 20 percent stamp duty, while properties sold between one to two years after purchase will face a 10 percent levy.
Hong Kong introduced a similar stamp duty late last year to try to restrain runaway property prices in the densely populated former British colony, which is favoured by super-rich mainland Chinese investors.