THE M3: IVS CURBS RELAXED?, SPEEDING UP LAND-USE APPROVALS

The Macau Metro Monitor, May 17th, 2010

IVS CURBS RELAXED FURTHER? Intelligence Macau

According to IM, because of the visa restrictions two years ago, mainland visitors switched from IVS to package tours in order to avoid the restrictions on the number of visits per year.  But overall mainland arrivals were up 8.18% in March 2010 as tour package numbers fell overall by 7.7% YoY. Are we starting to see a swing back towards IVS (individual visitor scheme) from package tours? If so, mainland visitors will have more money in their pockets for gaming, seeing as they don't need to pay a middleman to get to Macau. It may also weaken the hand of the junkets who control many of these tours.

'BUILD FIRST, APPROVE LATER' POLICY FAULTED SCMP

Approving construction projects long after they are completed has become a common practice of the Macau government in the last few years as a backlog of land-use applications builds up while officials tread warily in the wake of the graft scandal involving former public works minister Ao Man-long. For example, the land-use approval for Sands China's US$4.42 billion project on the Cotai Strip was gazetted on Wednesday - four years after construction began and five years after the government received the application for the project.

Jaime Roberto Carion, director of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau, on May 7 admitted that his bureau was "a little slow" in approving land-use changes. "The process of changing land uses is a little slow. We will review it and speed it up," Carion said. A bureau spokesman said the government had been improving transparency in land-use approvals. "We are speeding up the revision of the Land Law and other relevant laws and regulations," he said.