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澳门的神秘资金:基建落后,却有千亿资金闲置

Reuters 2017年09月17日

在澳门急需的基础设施领域,投入其中的博彩税还不到总额的十分之一。

 

过去五年,作为全球最大博彩中心的澳门共收获博彩税700亿美元(4564亿元人民币)。这是澳门政府的最大收入来源,而且规模远超其他收入项目。然而,在澳门急需的基础设施领域,投入其中的博彩税还不到总额的十分之一。

上个月吹袭澳门的台风造成10人丧生,并让半座城市陷入断水断电状态,从而凸显出基础设施投资的不足。学者、议员和居民认为,多年来管理不善、规划失当以及腐败是税款一直未能得到更好使用的关键原因。曾在澳门圣若瑟大学担任教授的苏鼎德说:“他们的开支本有可能远远超过这个水平。” 苏鼎德目前专门从事研究澳门的工作,他所指的正是基础设施投资。

苏鼎德指出,澳门政府财力非常雄厚,今后几年的运转甚至都不需要收税。

与此同时,澳门六家赌场运营商缴纳的税金仍源源而来,它们的纳税额占澳门政府年收入的八成以上。

澳门财政局的数据显示,截至2016年底,澳门的公共债务为零,同时拥有550亿美元(3586亿元人民币)财政储备,相当于当年公共支出的540%。

澳门货币监管部门表示,它用这些财政储备进行了多元化全球投资,并且“严格控制着这些资产的整体风险水平”。

该部门称,2012-2016年这些投资的年回报率介于0.7%-3%。

澳门有60多万居民,通常澳门政府每年都会向每位居民派发9000澳门元(7290元人民币)的红包,还会在教育和小企业等领域提供补贴。

对政府数据的分析显示,对于道路、桥梁、港口和学校等基础设施项目,澳门政府近几年的实施率一直很低。

2013年澳门博彩行业收入达到创纪录的450亿美元(2934亿元人民币),而政府的基础设施项目实施率还不到40%。

澳门政府在电子邮件中表示,这些项目“由于多种原因而受阻”,但未做具体说明。

2014年获中央支持的一批官员上任,开始清理前任留下的腐败案,后者则面临着长期牢狱之灾。此后澳门的基础设施项目实施率不断提高。

2016年,尽管为公共基础设施划拨的预算从上年的148亿澳门元(119.88亿元人民币)降至111亿澳门元(89.91亿元人民币),基础设施项目实施率却跃升至85%。2012年澳门的公共基础设施预算为198亿澳门元(160.38亿元人民币)。

同时,澳门政府计划制定新法案,以提高预算编制透明度并对公共财政进行监督。

待完成基建项目

但经济学家指出,澳门有多处未完工公共工程,而且预算正在飙升。原定于今年开业的一家新公立医院还处在初步建设阶段。同时,澳门的新轮渡码头原计划2007年投入运营,但今年才刚刚竣工,比计划晚了10年,预算也增长了四倍以上。

光亚咨询首席执行官保罗·布罗姆贝格称澳门的公共工程经常延期。

他说:“我记得2003年政府官员就说要修建轻轨,现在都已经2017年了,轻轨还是不见踪影。”

政府仍在紧张进行台风善后工作,并在本周估算台风损失为14亿美元(91.28亿元人民币)。逾100处公共设施和50万棵树被毁,两家赌场仍未开业。这还不包括台风灾害期间被迫暂停经营活动的公司可能出现的损失。

澳门政府已经成立了一个新的委员会来应对自然灾害,并称澳门将修建挡潮闸,以减轻今后严重洪涝的影响。

但老居民表示他们认为情况不会很快发生改变。《澳门邮报》主管哈拉尔德·布鲁宁对挡潮闸的看法是:“这件事政府已经说了几十年了。我猜这项工程要到2020年以后才会竣工。”(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

Over the past five years, Macau has raked in $70 billion in taxes from the casinos that have made the territory the largest gambling center in the world. But it has invested less than 10% of that take – by far its largest source of income – in much needed infrastructure.

That shortfall was laid bare last month when Macau was struck by a typhoon that killed 10 people and wiped out power and water for over half the city. Years of mismanagement, poor planning and corruption are key reasons why the money has not been better utilized, according to academics, legislators and residents. "They could spend much more," said Eric Sautede, a former professor at the University of Macau, and now a researcher specializing in the former Portuguese colony, referring to infrastructure investment.

He said the government's coffers were so large it could operate for the next several years without collecting taxes.

However, taxes from Macau's six casino operators - which account for more than 80% of government revenue annually - continue to pour in.

The southern Chinese territory has zero public debt and had fiscal reserves of $55 billion at the end of 2016, equal to 540% of public expenditure that year, according to statistics from Macau's financial bureau.

Macau's monetary authority said it invests the reserves in a globally diversified portfolio of assets, with a "stringent control on the overall risk level of the portfolio."

The annual rate of return during 2012-2016 ranged from 0.7% to 3%, it said.

Macau's government typically distributes an annual cash handout of 9,000 patacas ($1,117.73) for each of the more than 600,000 people living in the territory, as well as subsidies for things like education and small businesses.

The government's execution rate for infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, ports, and schools has also been low in recent years, according to an analysis of government figures.

In 2013, as casino revenues hit a record $45 billion, the government had an execution rate of under 40%.

The government said in an email without elaboration that projects were "hindered due to different reasons."

Execution rates have been improving since 2014, after the appointments of Beijing-backed officials charged with cleaning up a trail of corruption left by predecessors now facing lengthy jail sentences.

In 2016 the execution rate jumped to 85%, although the budget allocation for public infrastructure decreased, dropping to 11.1 billion patacas in 2016 from 14.8 billion patacas the year before. In 2012, the number was 19.8 billion patacas.

A new bill is also planned to improve transparency in the drafting of budgets and monitoring of public finances.

Infrastructure Backlog

However, unfinished public works projects are still scattered around Macau with skyrocketing budgets, according to economists. A new public hospital was meant to open this year but is still in the early construction phase. Macau's new ferry terminal, meanwhile, was scheduled to open in 2007 but was only finished this year, 10 years behind schedule and over five times its original budget.

Paul Bromberg, the chief executive of Spectrum Asia, a consultancy firm, said Macau's public works were frequently delayed.

"I remember government officials talking about plans to build a light rail in 2003 and now it is 2017 and there is still no rail system," he said.

The government is still grappling with the aftermath of the typhoon, this week estimating the losses at $1.4 billion. More than 100 public facilities were damaged and 500,000 trees were destroyed, while two casinos remain shuttered. The figures did not include potential losses for companies forced to suspend business operations due to typhoon damage.

The government has appointed a new committee to handle natural disasters and says it will build a tidal wall to help alleviate heavy flooding in the future.

However, long-time residents say they don’t expect changes any time soon. "The government has been talking about it for decades, “ said Harald Bruning, the director of the Macau Post Daily newspaper, referring to the tidal wall project. “I guess the project would only be completed in the next decade."

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