A second package of measures to alleviate the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been announced by the Macao SAR Government on 8 April. Many measures are already being implemented, and aim to assist employees, the self-employed, businesses and the general public.
This collection of subsidies, grants, rebates and waivers are estimated to be worth about MOP10 billion.
It is the second round of financial assistance to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 13 February, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong announced an initial intervention worth about MOP20 billion that was intended to help Macao people and businesses, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Grants, subsidies to workers
First, eligible taxpayers have been given a grant of MOP5,000 a month for three months, or the equivalent of about one-quarter of the median monthly income for an employed resident of Macao. The aggregate MOP15,000 were delivered in June. High-income earners – i.e. those who are entitled to receive a rebate of MOP20,000, the ceiling of rebate on personal income tax, for the 2018 fiscal year – and employees of public bodies were ineligible.
Second, a series of grants were made available for self-employed professionals, including:
- Between MOP15,000 and MOP200,000 to each self-employed professional, depending on the number of employees the person has hired; and
- MOP10,000 to tenant stallholders in wet markets, licensed hawkers, holders of tricycle rickshaw licences, and drivers leasing a taxi.
Expiring taxi licences will remain valid for an additional six months and inspections of the roadworthiness of perpetually licensed taxis have been put back for six months.
Another measure to help the self-employed is a subsidy for interest charged at rates of up to 4 percent that the self-employed pay on bank loans. The maximum amount payable to each is MOP8,000 over two years for loans of up to MOP100,000.
Boost for business
To help business operators, subsidies of between MOP15,000 and MOP200,000 were given in June to each eligible company, depending on how many employees it has. Up to a maximum of MOP1 million was available to companies covered by the same taxpayer identification number.
There were restrictions, including exclusions for companies in public utilities, public bus services, the city’s Light Rapid Transit system operator, public telecommunications firms, financial service businesses, formal education institutes and higher education institutes, social service agencies and gaming companies. If a recipient lays off employees unjustifiably within six months of receiving its grant, it will be required to pay back the money proportionately.
To help the unemployed, a subsidy of MOP6,656 is available to each jobless local resident attending a Government training course. Once completed, additional assistance will be offered to help match jobs to the candidate. Visit here to read about the scheme in greater detail.
Employed residents may attend Government-run job training courses, if their employers recommend them for training. Every employer can recommend up to five employees for training. Employers will be paid MOP5,000 for each employee that attends such a course during working hours and whose pay has not been reduced due to the pandemic.
Employers can also recommend Government-run job training courses for employees on unpaid leave, and the Government will grant each worker MOP5,000 at the end of their course. Employers are not allowed to subject their employees to ‘no paid leave’ status in order for them to attend Government training.
The final measure in April’s announcement is a second stage of the Consumption Subsidy Scheme.
The scheme’s first stage saw permanent and non-permanent residents apply for a smartcard loaded with MOP3,000 to spend between May and July at specified businesses with Macau Pass electronic terminals.
As of 15 June, a total of 600,171 Macao residents had collected their respective smart card. Each person had spent on average MOP2,481, totalling MOP1.46 billion. About 70 percent of the total had been spent in retail, followed by about 24 percent used in the restaurant sector.
In the second stage of the scheme, another MOP5,000 will be made available to each resident to spend on goods and services between August and December. Secretary Lei says the Government expects the second stage to cost about MOP3.6 billion after earmarking MOP2.2 billion for the first stage.