Casino Construction Project Macau On Track

HONG KONG—Sands China Ltd. is set to get the go-ahead from the Macau government later this month to employ five thousand foreign labourers to start building its $4 billion prodigious construction project.

New labour legislation has been imposed by the Macau government requesting that one local construction worker be employed for every worker outside Macau.  A shortage of labour in the Chinese territory had earlier pressed investors to import many of their construction workers from somewhere else especially from mainland China.

Sands China suspended its construction project in November 2008 at the pinnacle of the global financial recession , however the developer has started building earlier this year and it plans to open the casino in the third quarter of 2011.

According to the latest press release the company has notified its shareholders that a further delay is to be expected on the project, due to a lack of labour requirements.  This in turn has further highlighted Macau’s stern labour laws.

Competitor to Sands China, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. has experienced similar problems hiring labour to complete their mammoth project in Macau’s Cotai region, which is the domicile to Sands’ main Venetian casino resort.

According to market specialist on the region, it will take approximately one month to start recruiting new labourers once they have received the green light to employ.  Based on the timeframe to hire labourers the planned opening date is set for the middle of 2012 for the Sands project, it will take more or less 16 months to complete phase one on condition there is no labour shortages. “It is estimated by RBS analyst Philip Tulk that property will open on July 1, 2012 or early in 2013

According to Mike Leven acting chief executive, the company presently employs a total of a 1,300 construction workers, this is not even close to the current figure of 10,000 to 11,000 workers required once the construction project is in full swing.  Leven also happens to be the operating chief of Las Vegas Sands.

Analysts in Macau are of the opinion the stern labour restrictions imposed were targeted at appeasing unhappy labour activists.   Macau’s casino boom is on the up and its gambling revenue for the year thus far stands at 63%.  The once stagnant Portuguese colony has been transformed into a bustling metropolis; unfortunately this has led to a socio-economic labour conflict, locals feel that they have been excluded from the financial boom.  Macau residents have levied their grievances to the Macau government and said the clampdown on labour isn’t benefitting anyone.

The region’s current unemployment rate stands at 2.9%, unfortunately theses restrictions are impacting severely on a host of other construction projects as well not relating to casinos, this includes the government’s new building projects; a new light-rail system and private residential real-estate developments.

Macau’s government might impose a relaxation of its current legislation and has been in discussion with top Chinese officials in Beijing to deliberate plans for the country’s next Five Year Plan going forward, which will be unveiled in 2011.

There is still a lot of uncertainty hovering above the Sands China to employ foreign construction workers for its project, hopefully this will prompt a territory-wide slackening of its current labour regulations.



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