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The Macau Metro Monitor, August 8, 2011

 

SINGAPORE TO EXPAND BENEFITS, TIGHTEN FOREIGN CURBS AFTER POLL BACKLASH Bloomberg

After a backlash over the cost of living led to record opposition gains in the May elections, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will expand public housing and medical benefits while tightening curbs on foreign workers.  Changes will include higher salary thresholds and better educational qualification for some foreign workers.  More than a third of Singapore’s 5.1 million population is made up of foreigners and permanent residents. According to the Ministry of Manpower, companies added about 116,000 jobs last year, of which 59,700 went to foreigners.

HOTELS EXPECT FULL BOOKINGS FOR FORMULA ONE RACE WEEKEND The Business Times

Hoteliers are expecting strong room demand during 2011 Formula One Grand Prix (Sept 23-25) with many trackside hotels projecting full occupancy. 'So far, we have seen a positive response from the public and there has been a healthy take-up of the room packages. We are expecting the hotel to be running at high occupancy,' said an MBS spokesperson. 'We are expecting a strong mix of both corporate and leisure guests as there are several large events at MBS that lead up to the F1 weekend.'

SLOT CLUBS LOSING THE JINGLE OF COINS TO IRs The Business Times

To date, the Singapore Indian Association, Singapore Mariners' Club and SAF Yacht Club (Changi) have closed their jackpot operations as the high costs of upgrading and buying new machines amid declining jackpot revenues didn't justify reinvestment for some of them.  After the opening of the 2 IRs, Singapore's slot clubs saw revenues fall by 35-40% according to an independent gaming consultant.   Many slot players have been trading in their social club privileges for $2,000 annual memberships at the casinos because they offer better returns to players and hefty progressive and mystery jackpot wins of at least $1 million, plus attractive incentives including new cars.  

In contrast to casinos which are taxed at 15% of net gaming revenues, slot clubs are taxed 9.5% of gross turnover of jackpot machines - which is roughly equivalent to a 54% tax rate on net win.  In addition to the higher tax burden, Clubs are also barred from offering promotions that encourage higher turnover.

TOURS SOAR macaubusiness.com

According to the Statistics and Census Service, visitor arrivals on package tours increased by 20.9% YoY to 591,000 in June. Visitors from the mainland (435,000) and Taiwan (33,000) grew by 29% and 50.1%, respectively.

WINNIE HO CALLS FOR HKEx PROBE OF SJM DIRECTORS,  Macau Daily Times

In a letter dated June 14, Winnie (Stanley Ho's estranged sister) asked the HK Securities and Futures Commission and the HK and Clearing Commission to investigate the conduct of Stanley Ho, Pansy Ho,  Angela Leong and Ambrose So.  Winnie Ho accuses the SJM directors of failing to fulfil their duties “competently, honestly and fairly” and questions their “reputation, character, reliability and financial integrity”.  She has filed more than 30 lawsuits against her brother in both Macau and HK.

MACAU: POLICY TO PROTECT EMPLOYMENT OF LOCAL WORKERS Jornal San Wa

Chief Executive Fernando Chui says that the government will put more employment policies and safeguards protecting the rights of local workers into place.  Authorities will offer training and continuing education opportunities, and negotiate with large enterprises on pay adjustment, adding employers should also share the returns with employees. Chui also stressed that the government would ensure imported labors will not weaken the benefits of local residents.

BANK NEW LOANS LENDING GO SLOW People's Daily

China's lending dropped to yuan $141.3BN in July - a seven month low since the government imposed tighter monetary policy in an effort to curb inflation.  July's figure was down MoM and $25.2BN lower YoY.  Despite tightening measures, certain sectors will continue to receive plenty of capital flow including agriculture, SMEs, subsidized housing, strategic industries and green development. 

HENGQUIN ISLAND TO ENJOY FREE TRADE Guangdong News

Beijing has agreed to give make Hengquin Island a free trade zone which should provide Zhuhai with more economic opportunities to accelerate its economic growth. Imported goods to Hengquin will enjoy import duty exemption, but will be subject to tariffs if the good's final destination is another part of the PRC.