Home Legislators Forward planning should be in place to minimise idling of commercial spaces in public housing.

Forward planning should be in place to minimise idling of commercial spaces in public housing.

Leong Sun Iok, Federation of Macao Workers' Associations

The problems of long-standing vacancy and low tendering frequency of commercial units in public housing have existed for a long time, resulting in a lack of proper utilisation and allocation of public resources. According to the “Information on Open Tenders for Commercial Spaces in Public Housing”, the IH has only launched eight open tenders from 2012 to 2021, and some large-scale public housing clusters, such as Edifício do Bairro da Ilha Verde and Shek Pai Wan, have been five years away from their latest tenders. I am of the view that with the completion of the first batch of public housing in Zone A in 2025 at the earliest, it is expected that quite a number of public housing shops will be available by then, and I suggest that the relevant departments should take this opportunity to tackle the existing problem of unused public housing shops by way of legislative amendments and mechanisms.

At present, the leasing of shops in public housing is based on the Decree-Law 28/92/M “Regulamenta a atribuição, arrendamento e cedência gratuita dos espaços adequados ao exercício de actividades comerciais que existam em edifícios destinados a habitação social “, and is carried out through either public tendering or direct granting. However, it has been more than 30 years since the promulgation of the above Act in 1992, and the relevant provisions are outdated and unable to adapt to the development of the times. Taking the past outbreak of the epidemic as an example, even though the Government has already waived three months’ rent in 2020 and 2021 in response to the pressure of business operation on commercial tenants in public housing estates, this is not a long-term solution.

In fact, the lack of a communication and co-ordination mechanism between the Government and commercial tenants, and the inability to negotiate rent reductions in the light of the objective market environment and the actual operating conditions of the commercial tenants, is not conducive to the development of SMEs, and it also highlights the lack of flexibility in the overall mechanism. It is suggested that the Government may consider studying the feasibility of amending the law, taking into account factors such as the current social environment and market conditions, in order to enable the flexible utilisation of commercial units in public housing estates.

Meanwhile, with the completion of the first batch of public housing in Zone A in 2025 at the earliest, it means that overall commercial planning has to be put on the agenda. In reply to my previous written question, the IH mentioned that it had commissioned an organisation to conduct the “Study on the Distribution and Quantity of Commercial Businesses in Public Housing in the North and Central-North Districts of Zone A”, and the Consultation Conclusions Report on the Draft Projecto do Plano de Pormenor da Unidade Operativa de Planeamento e Gestão Este-2 also reiterated that in the North, Central-North and Central-South Districts of Zone A, there should be sufficient commercial space in residential buildings, and that the main focus of the study was on complementary commercial facilities serving the residential community, so as to form a community business centre and provide room for the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). I propose that the Government should make use of the opportunity presented by Zone A and, based on the findings of the aforesaid study, consider the overall planning for commercial premises in public housing estates in Macau and formulate a more flexible mechanism.

Federation of Macao Workers’ Associations

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