The Macau SAR government announced on Wednesday a new MOP$13.6 billion (US$1.7 billion) fund for local residents, enterprises and employees, however gaming operators are excluded.
Authorities have determined to increase efforts to drive the Macau economy during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to “sustain employment and stimulate local demand.” The latest package includes MOP$10 billion in subsidies to employees and local SMEs, plus an extra MOP$3.6 billion in e-coupons to be granted to all residents. Each resident will receive a MOP$5,000 e-coupon for use between August and December, having previously received a MOP$3,000 e-coupon for use between May and July.
Other than civil servants, high-income earners and non-resident workers, about 260,000 registered local employees are able to receive cash subsidies of MOP$15,000 from the government.
For about 40,000 qualified local enterprises, the SAR government will provide a one-time subsidy of between MOP$15,000 and MOP$200,000 depending on the numbers of employees. However, employers must guarantee they will not lay off employees within six months. If they do so they will have to return their subsidies.
Gaming operators will not benefit from the measures despite the sector operating on near-zero revenue due to strict border restrictions imposed by both the Macau and Guangdong governments.
Macau has banned all foreign visitors from entering and imposed quarantine on those from Hong Kong and Taiwan, while Guangdong Province has also implemented quarantine on Macau arrivals, which has pushed visitation numbers to less than 300 per day.
“We do appreciate gaming operators for not laying off employees and sustaining employees’ lives at a fair level,” said Secretary for Finance and Economy, Lei Wai Nong.
“Gaming operators and others large-scale businesses have accumulated certain profits in the past and they should have the conditions to maintain their operations and sustain employment.
“The government is tilted in favor of employees, residents and SMEs at this time and we hope operators could understand. We will pass the winter, and we believe the spring will come.”
The Secretary also noted that the government has reserved another MOP$3.2 billion for future recovery once the pandemic passes.