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The Macau Metro Monitor, March 22th, 2010

MACAU ROW OVER MOVE TO FILL LAKE TO BUILD HOSPITAL South China Morning Post

A decision to fill in a 13-hectare lake, which is bounded by Lotus Avenue and Estrada do Istmo (Isthmus Road), near the Macau Dome stadium, to build a public hospital highlights the Macau government's dire shortage of land after years of land hoarding by speculators. Citing population growth and lack of medical services, CEO Chiu listed the building of a hospital on the Cotai Strip as a high priority and reassured legislators that the government will deal with undeveloped land in accordance with the laws, as filling a lake while there are large undeveloped sites nearby has sparked criticism of the government's inability to seize land from speculators. Large sites totaling at least 50 hectares sit idle near the lake.

Legislator Au Kam-san, a veteran watchdog of Macau's land policies, said it was absurd not to use an existing site.

Au said at least three undeveloped sites could be used to build the hospital. A 10.6-hectare plot to the east of Macau Dome was sold to a company controlled by Chui Sai-cheong, an elder brother of the CEO, for 231 million patacas, or 2,179 patacas per square meter, in January 2006, according to the Government Gazette. According to the gazetted land deal, a hotel had to be built on the site by January 2009. This means the government now has the right to seize the undeveloped site under Macau law. Another plot of over 10 hectares to the west of Macau Dome is also vacant. It is unclear who owns that site as the government has not made the information public. A third plot of more than 10 hectares to the south of the Grand Waldo casino hotel belongs to Galaxy Entertainment and is not being developed.

Macau's Land Law requires government land sales to be carried out through public bidding, with exceptions allowed only with the chief executive's permission. Yet since the 1999 handover, only a handful of more than 400 sites sold by the government have gone through the public bidding process. In a rare open land auction in January 2008, two plots in the Macau Peninsula's northern Fai Chi Kei area totaling 4,700 square meters fetched HK$1.4 billion, or HK$297,872 a square meter. The prices for many land deals in the past few years were less than 10% of the open bid price.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX FOR FERUARY 2010 DSEC

CPI for February 2010 rose by 2.57% YoY; the increment was attributable to the price increase of the Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages. Price indices of Recreation & Culture; Transport; Clothing & Footwear; Miscellaneous Goods & Services; and Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages rose by 8.64%, 7.87%, 7.84%, 7.33% and 4.82% respectively, on account of soaring charges for outbound package tours, meal brought away from home and hairdressing services, rising prices of gasoline, gold jewelery, clothing, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood during the Lunar New Year period.

The CPI-A (103.0) and CPI-B (103.28) for February 2010 increased by 1.99% and 2.62% YoY respectively. The CPI-A relates to about 50% of the households, which have an average monthly expenditure of MOP6,000 to MOP18,999. The CPI-B relates to about 30% of the households, which have an average monthly expenditure of MOP19,000 to MOP34,999.

GAMING TAX RECEIPTS SOAR macaubusiness.com

The Financial Services Bureau says direct gaming tax receipts for the first two months of 2010 rose 54% to MOP9.26 billion. These receipts accounted for 86.55% of total government revenue, which reached MOP10.7 billion, a YoY increase of 45.8%.

NON-RESIDENT DEPOSITS FALL IN JANUARY Macau Daily Times

The Monetary Authority of Macao released data that showed M2 grew 1.5% MoM to MOP 215.4 billion in January. Resident deposits grew 1.5% from the previous month to MOP 210.4 billion. Non-resident deposits dropped by 16.9% MoM to MOP 69.1 billion and public sector deposits with the banking sector decreased 6.5% to MOP 15.2 billion. As a result, total deposits with the banking sector declined 3.9% from the previous month to MOP 294.8 billion. Domestic loans to the private sector expanded 1.8% MoM during January to MOP 102.7 billion. As domestic loans to the private sector rose at a faster pace than resident deposits, the loan-to-deposit ratio for the resident sector grew 0.4% this month to 45.5% at the end of January 2010.