Gambling makes Macau richest place in Asia

March 29th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by admin  

Hong Kong, March 29 (DPA) Surging gambling revenue and investments in luxury hotels and the entertainment industry has made the former Portuguese enclave of Macau Asia’s richest territory, a media report said Saturday. Macau has overtaken other locations such as Singapore, Brunei and Japan to take the top spot after gross domestic product (GDP) per capita surged 27 percent to $36,357 last year, according to Macau government figures.

The results from the statistics and census service show that in US dollar terms, Macau, with a population of 531,000, is the world’s 20th richest economy, the South China Morning Post said.

This puts the territory, which like Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, ahead of Italy and just behind Germany and France.

The rise in per-capita GDP was buoyed by a 47 percent increase to $10.34 billion in gambling revenue last year. Investment bank Morgan Stanley has forecast gaming revenue will grow 23 percent this year and rise by about 20 percent per year in 2009 and 2010.

But while the improved growth figures may be good news for the territory’s wealthy few, it comes with a down side. The average Macau resident saw median monthly employment earnings rise by only 7.5 percent last year to about $1,020.

By comparison, inflation climbed by an annualised 9.5 percent in February, a 12-year high. Rent and medical expenses are rising at a faster rate, by 15.6 percent for rent and 24.2 percent for basic medical consultations.

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