Government pledges additional MOP 10 billion for financial support and pandemic-related expenses
The Macau government has pledged an additional MOP 10 billion ($1.25 billion) for financial relief measures for the public and other pandemic-related expenses in light of the current Covid-19 outbreak. in the community, Economy and Finance Secretary Lei Wai Nong announced today (Saturday).
This will bring the total value of the financial relief measures to be offered by the government to MOP 20 billion. The administration already announced on June 19 that financial support measures totaling MOP 10 billion would be rolled out, including one-off subsidies for employees, the self-employed and businesses; exemption from tourist tax; a fuel subsidy for the taxi sector; and others.
Speaking at today’s press conference on the latest pandemic situation in the city, which has reported 1,706 new cases since June 18, Lei said the measures promised on June 19 would gradually be ready. from the first half of August.
The Executive Council yesterday (Friday) completed discussion of amendments to the government’s budget for 2022, which indicate an additional allocation of almost MOP 35.16 billion from the city’s fiscal reserve for financial relief measures amid of the latest community outbreak of Covid-19. The amending finance bill was also submitted yesterday to the Legislative Assembly for deliberation.
This is the second revision of the city’s 2022 budget, which has exhausted a total of nearly MOP 72.75 billion from the fiscal reserve to support local businesses and the general public. Prior to these two amendments to the budget, the government has already taken more than MOP 100 billion from the public coffers over the past two years to cover reduced revenue such as casino tax revenue and additional expenditure for anti-corruption efforts. pandemic.
Lei noted today that the authorities have already consumed MOP 167.8 billion from the fiscal reserve since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago, and the latest budget revision is also to cover revenue. games below expectations so far this year. According to the latest official figures, gaming revenue in Macau only totaled MOP 26.27 billion in the first half of 2022, down 46.4% from a year earlier and only representing more than 17% from the pre-pandemic level.
The criteria for the one-time grant of MOP 15,000 each for employees pledged on June 19 are also being relaxed to benefit more workers, the official added, who however did not say exactly how many workers could benefit from the change. The income level of employees entitled to the one-time subsidy no longer exceeds MOP 600,000 in total over the 2020-2021 period, compared to a previous requirement of between MOP 6,000 and 480,000 over the 2020-2021 period.
Authorities announced today that partial lockdown measures will remain from July 18 until the end of July 22, including the suspension of all non-essential business and commercial activities like casinos. The restrictive measures were first put in place between July 11 and July 17 to bring the current outbreak under control.
Listening to the public
“We understand that this outbreak presents unprecedented pressure on the public, and the government shares that sentiment as well,” the economy and finance secretary said.
Asked about new support measures the government will come up with with an additional MOP 10 billion, for example, whether there will be a new round of cash payments, Mr Lei did not provide any details today and only said that there would be “general support” for residents staying in Macau in this current outbreak, including the elderly, housewives and children.
The official also pointed out that the authorities have different plans to support the local economy and the public, which will be adjusted and deployed according to the most recent development of the local pandemic situation.
“That’s why we didn’t wait for the end of this epidemic to unveil the financial relief measures, but we already promised measures just one day after the start of this epidemic. And we also continue to adjust these measures “, he remarked.
On the additional 10 billion MOP, Lei said, “It is to show the government’s commitment to fighting the pandemic and supporting the public, as well as boosting public morale amid the crisis. ‘epidemic. [I] believe that we can succeed in our efforts to fight the pandemic if we work together. »
He added that the authorities “will listen to the opinions of the public” regarding the new financial relief measures, the details of which will be announced in due course. He did not say whether the officials would be eligible for the measures.
“Our top priority now is to keep the epidemic under control and achieve ‘dynamic zero-Covid’,” he added.