Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, stated Thursday that the government has no intention of cutting gaming taxes in order to ease financial pressures on the industry as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak.
“The gaming industry has had a good time in the past,” Lei said at a press conference. “In accordance with the current gaming law and regulations, gaming operators have to pay several taxes. Thus tax concession for the gaming industry is related to relevant law amendments. We don’t have this kind of intention at this moment.”
Gaming operators in Macau are levied around 39% in taxes on gaming revenues, including 35% government tax with several contributions for social and economic purposes.
Gaming revenues plunged 87.8% to MOP$3.1 billion in February, prompting the likes of SJM Vice-Chairman, Executive Director and CEO Ambrose So Shu Fai to call for gaming taxes to be eased.
Expecting the government deficit to reach MOP$40 billion this year, Lei said that businesses in the gaming sector and other associated industries such as retail, dining and hotels would recover when the epidemic stabilizes.
“Once the situations in Macau and cities nearby are stabilized, I believe that tourists will come back soon. Macau will recover soon,” he said.
“Therefore Macau has to do our best in preventive measures for not only our citizens, but also to show tourists that we are safe.”
Lei expressed his appreciation to gaming operators for donating money and medical supplies to support the community, although he expressed his concern regarding employment after it was revealed this week that a “top 5” junket operator had laid off 200 employees. All were re-hired upon pressure from the government.
In order to revitalize Macau’s economy, the government recently announced a stimulus package that will see citizens receive MOP$10,000 cash in April, and a MOP$3,000 e-coupon to be used between May and July.