Social Welfare

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					Social Welfare

The MSAR Government’s social welfare policy is underlined by the goals of
strengthening social services, improving people’s livelihood, supporting the
underprivileged, as well as building harmonious families and communities.

Through close cooperation with non-governmental organisations, the Government
aims to drive the development of social services that meet people’s actual needs and
to empower the needy and underprivileged so that they can improve their quality of
life. In this regard, the Social Welfare Bureau plays a steering role by gradually
establishing mechanisms for improving different kinds of social services, which
include creating Macao’s own ageing index and the system of categorisation and
evaluation of disabilities. The Government’s expenditure on social services has
increased by 3.4 times, from 171 million patacas (US$20 million) in 1999 to 747
million patacas (US$90 million) in 2008.

Elderly Services

The Government aims to foster a sense of security, a sense of belonging and a sense
of worthiness for the elderly.

To show care for the elderly and advocate respect for senior citizens, in 2005 the
Government began giving out Old-age Allowance to elderly persons aged 65 or above.
The amount was substantially increased to 5,000 patacas per year in 2009. The
expenditure allocated in the budget increased rapidly, from 42 million patacas in 2005
to around 200 million patacas in 2009. More than 40,000 elderly persons have

Macao has 19 elderly homes; nine of them are non-profit-making (all of which are
subsidised by the Social Welfare Bureau) and 10 are private (nine being profit-making
and one being non-profit-making). They provide residential services for senior
citizens who cannot live in their own homes for various reasons.

Macao also has one public and six non-profit-making day centres for the elderly, and
three non-profit-making elderly day care centres, all of which are subsidised by the
Social Welfare Bureau. These provide day care, nursing and rehabilitation for elderly
people in failing health. In addition, one public and 22 non-profit-making community

centres for the elderly provide social, recreational and educational activities with
subventions from the Social Welfare Bureau.

There are four Home Help and Community Support Teams in Macao, which are
attached to three day centres and one day care centre for the elderly. The teams
provide homecare and rehabilitation services to the elderly in need, as well as support
for physically frail senior citizens living in the community. Their services are divided
into two categories: basic services and support services. Basic services include
homecare services (such as meal deliveries, home cleaning, bathing, personal care,
laundry, escorting the elderly and accompanying them when they receive medical
services, shopping, and other assistance outside their homes) and psychological and
social support services (individual counselling, home visits, phone calls, and
communal mutual-aid network activities). Support services include nursing and
rehabilitation services.

The Caring Service Network for the Aged is another programme in which volunteers
regularly visit elderly single people, giving them the warm feeling of being cared for
by society.

People holding Macao Resident Identity Cards aged 65 or above are eligible to apply
for the Senior Citizen’s Card. Senior Citizen’s Card holders are entitled to the welfare
and benefits offered by the public organisations and enterprises that have signed
cooperation agreements with the Social Welfare Bureau. By the end of 2008, the
Social Welfare Bureau had issued a cumulative total of 30,121 Senior Citizen’s Cards.

On 1 July 2008, the Government launched a bus fare subsidy programme for the
elderly. Under this programme, all Macao residents aged 65 or above are entitled to
direct subsidies for each of their bus ride. This means that they only have to pay 0.3
patacas of the bus fare for each ride, with the shortfall paid by the government.

Family, Community, Children’s and Youth Services

There are five social services centres in Macao, providing individuals and families in
need with general services, including personal and family counselling, financial aid,
round-the-clock support, disaster relief and referral services.

Fourteen non-profit-making community centres provide services to the public in
Macao. Of these, 13 are subsidised by the Social Welfare Bureau. They offer facilities

such as study rooms, areas for ball games and children’s reading rooms. Activities
such as lectures, exhibitions, evening entertainments, dances and hobby classes are
also held on a regular basis.

Macao currently has 33 child-care centres; of which 31 are non-profit-making (27 of
these are subsidised by the Social Welfare Bureau) and two are profit making. In
addition, nine non-profit homes for children and adolescents subsidised by the Social
Welfare Bureau provide a healthy living environment and short or long-term care and
counselling for orphans, as well as children and adolescents who have been
abandoned, who lack family care, or who are on the verge of a crisis as a result of
family or social conflicts. Two non-profit community youth service outreach teams,
consisting of professional social workers, offer counselling and support to vulnerable
young people and help them to confront and solve personal, family and
peer-relationship problems by getting in touch with them proactively and raising
public awareness about their problems and needs.

Rehabilitation Services

The Government strives to empower disabled people in their community life,
upholding the principle of “community-based integration”.

Macao has five non-profit rehabilitation homes and eight non-profit day care centres.
They are subsidised by the Government and provide rehabilitation services and
support to the mentally disabled, chronic mental patients, children with mental or
physical disabilities, the hearing impaired, the visually impaired, and people
recovering from mental illness.

At present, six subsidised sheltered workshops, vocational training centres and
supported employment centres help to make the disabled aware of their own potential
and employment capabilities, and encourage them to become “self-confident,
self-reliant and self-empowering”.

Two non-profit pre-schools/education centres subsidised by the Social Welfare
Bureau provide early special education and training for children with developmental
or behavioural problems, or children with hearing impairment, thus facilitating the
development of their intelligence, linguistic and social skills, and mobility.

The rehabilitation bus service in Macao is provided by two non-profit agencies. The

MSAR Government subsidises the cost of purchasing and operating rehabilitation
buses. The service enables people with impaired mobility, the physically disabled and
patients requiring renal dialysis to commute between their homes and hospitals or
Health Centres.

Other government-subsidised services include a comprehensive rehabilitation service
centre designed for people with intellectual disabilities and a community psychiatric
rehabilitation support team.

Social Security

Macao’s social security contribution system to protect employees was established in
1989. The Social Security Fund Authority was established on 23 March 1990 to
ensure that contribution responsibilities were honoured. Its funds are derived from the
contributions of employers and employees, an appropriation from the gaming
industry’s revenue, the MSAR Government’s allocation of one percent of total budget
revenue, and interest payments received from Social Security Fund investments.

Contributions are made by local employees, non-local employees, casual workers,
public servants and self-employed workers, as well as in the form of voluntary
payments. Except for voluntary contributors and self-employed persons, all employers
must register and contribute to the Social Security Fund on behalf of their employees,
so that employees may enjoy the welfare services, such as pensions, disability
gratuities, sickness benefits and unemployment benefits that they are entitled to under
the law.

Self-employed workers are also required to register with the Social Security Fund and
contribute to it. At present, 30 categories of self-employed workers are covered by the

The Social Security Fund has expanded its coverage over the years. The number of its
contributors increased from 116,000 in 1999 to over 250,000 in 2008, a rise of 120

Various forms of welfare benefits are provided by the Social Security Fund, including
pensions, disability gratuities, social relief, unemployment benefits, sickness benefits,
birth and marriage allowances, death gratuities, and compensation for unpaid wages
and pneumoconiosis. In 2008, disbursements for all these welfare benefits totalled

around 436 million patacas, an increase of 210 percent from 141 million patacas in

                Social Welfare Expenditure and Social Service Facilities
                                               1999         2008                Growth
No. of beneficiaries contributing to the
Social Security Fund                        115,698       250,476       134,778          1.2 times
Total of all subsidies under the Social
Security Fund (patacas)                    141 million   436 million   295 million       2.1 times
Social service expenditures (patacas)      171 million   747 million   576 million       3.4 times
No. of social service facilities               166          189            23             13.9%
  Of which: elderly services                    49           62            13             26.5%
              rehabilitation services           18           26            8              44.4%

Two-tier Social Security System

In a bid to enhance job and retirement security for Macao residents and offer better
safeguard against workplace risks, the 20-year-old social security system has been
revamped to the extent permitted by government finances in accordance with Macao’s
actual economic conditions and long-term development needs.

The Executive Council completed the discussions of the relevant legislation on the
two-tier social security system in September 2009. The draft amendment bill to the
Social Security System (which serves as the first tier of social security) and the first
part of the draft by-law on the opening and management of central provident fund
accounts (which serves as the second tier of social security) will be submitted to the
Legislative Assembly for deliberations.

The two-tier social security system works in two dimensions. Safeguards in the first
tier are offered by the amended social security system, which mainly includes basic
safeguards against workplace risks, unemployment and sickness for all employees, as
well as retirement security for all Macao residents. On top of this basic guarantee for
retirement security, the system’s second tier, which consists of the central provident
fund, is aimed at bolstering people’s retirement security by encouraging employees
and their employers to contribute to the fund, together with government subsidies, in
the form of savings.

Proposed amendments to the system’s first tier include: extending the system’s

coverage to all unemployed permanent residents who meet Macao’s domicile
requirements and are aged 22 or above in addition to all employed residents; ensuring
that the interests of beneficiaries in the current system will not be affected by the new
system; allowing beneficiaries in the new system to contribute retroactively for a
maximum of 15 years during the transition period; laying down a standard
contribution duration of 30 years; and calculating contributors’ retirement benefits in
proportion to their duration of contributions.

The system’s second tier, on the other hand, will be a brand new set-up. It is designed
to create a central provident fund through a common platform to enable employers
and employees from local enterprises of all sizes to make contributions. The
Government will also deposit some money to each of the eligible persons’ accounts as
initial capital; and in the years that follow, it will consider whether to inject more
capital into these accounts based on annual government finances and economic
conditions. All permanent residents of Macao aged 22 or above will be covered by the
central provident fund.

To kick-start the two-tier social security system, the Government will first open
individual central provident fund accounts for eligible Macao permanent residents in
the first quarter of 2010. Considering that the financial surplus for the 2008 financial
year was 25.1 billion patacas, the Government has decided to deposit 10,000 patacas
to each of the eligible persons’ accounts as initial capital, amounting to a total of 3.3
billion patacas. About 360,000 permanent residents of Macao are estimated to benefit
from this.

Public Housing and Home-Ownership Scheme Housing

Public housing refers to homes built by the MSAR Government or by private
developers on land granted to them by the Government. Upon completion, a stipulated
number of units are handed over to the Government for leasing to low-income
families and those in adverse circumstances.

Public housing leases are awarded through open bidding. However, families facing
mental or physical danger in their present residences are exempted from the bidding
process and granted public housing directly.

In the wake of economic inflation, in September 2008 the MSAR Government
launched the Subsidy Scheme for Families Awaiting Public Housing to relieve the

housing burdens of families on the waiting list for public housing. A family awaiting
public housing with a total monthly income not more than the statutory cap can
receive either of the following subsidies: a monthly subsidy of 750 patacas for a
family of one to two people; or a monthly subsidy of 1,100 patacas for a family of two
to three people. In 2008, 2,048 applications were approved, and the housing subsidies
disbursed totalled over 6.1 million patacas.

Home-Ownership Scheme housing refers to homes built on land granted by the
Government and sold by the developers below the market rate. When a development
is completed, some units are reserved for the Government, to repay the costs of
concessions and subsidies of land grants. The rest are sold to families on the Housing
Bureau’s waiting list, in accordance with terms and prices stipulated in the land grant
contracts. The Government plans to build 19,000 subsidised housing units in phases
by the end of 2012.

Since the Handover till the end of September 2009, 2,290 households had bought
Home-Ownership Scheme housing and 2,382 households had rented public housing.
The number of households living in government-subsidised housing accounts for
16.5 percent of total households in Macao.

More information:
Statistic and Census Service (
Social Welfare Bureau (
Social Security Fund ((
Housing Bureau (