Macau seen halving jobs for foreigners

Manila – The effects of the world financial crisis will likely drive Asia’s gaming capital, Macau, to halve the number of jobs open to foreign workers, the Blas F. Ople (BFO) Policy Center said Tuesday.

„The Macau administration is looking at a possible 50-percent reduction in foreign workers in private security and cleaning agencies for 2009. There is also some pressure for it to preserve high-paying jobs such as that of pit managers in casinos for jobless residents,“ Susan Ople, president of the BFO Policy Center, said in a statement.

„But so far, the Macau government has been adopting a wait-and-see attitude because they also need skilled foreign workers to remain competitive,“ she added.

It is still not clear how a job cut would affect the estimated 13,000 Filipino workers who live and work in Macau, although Ople acknowledged that a number of have already been sent home after big-ticket construction projects were temporarily shelved.

However, illegal recruiters continue to send workers to Macau despite the absence of job openings, Ople noted.

Ople, who is in Macau, said she met separately with Labor Attaché Leopoldo De Jesus and Consul General Jet Ledda to discuss the effect of the global financial crisis on overseas jobs for Filipinos.

Quoting Ded Jesus attaché, Ople said the tightening of Macau’s economy is also due to China’s policy limiting to once very three months its citizens’ visits to the gambling mecca.

On the other hand, she said, the Philippine consulate is closely monitoring the situation while expressing optimism that most Filipino workers in Macau remain secure in their current jobs.

„There is no doubt that our workers are highly valued in Macau. However, no one really can say for sure what the economy will be like a few months from now,“ she said.

Macau’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism revenues, principally from its gaming casinos and hotel industry.