Chamber of Commerce proposes new cash handouts for residents, consumption vouchers for non-residents

The government should approve a new round of cash handouts for residents, and consumption vouchers of MOP3,000 each for non-residents, in regards to the second MOP10-billion (US$1.25-billion) COVID-19 pandemic relief package, city’s influential the Macau Chinese Chamber of Commerce (ACM) suggests.

These were among the 20 suggestions made by the local prominent association, which said in a press release that the proposal was submitted to the Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong yesterday (Thursday) after collecting views on the topic “extensively from a wide array of industries”. 

Following the latest COVID-19 community outbreak in Macau on June 18, the authorities have pledged two rounds of MOP10-billion financial relief packages in the past month to support the local economy and the general public. Measures in the first MOP10 billion package include one-off subsidies for employees, self-employed and businesses; an exemption for tourism tax; a fuel subsidy for the taxi sector; and others. These measures will be available starting from Aug 17. 

But the government has so far not provided any details about the second MOP10-billion package, only stating there will be general support for the public. 

Besides a new round of cash hand-outs—which the ACM did not demand a specific amount—and consumption vouchers for non-residents, the chamber said in the statement that the authorities should also give one-off subsidies to merchants that were forced to suspend operations in the latest outbreak, and extend the current six-month subsidy scheme for electricity and water bills of households and enterprises for another six months.

The government can also mull the possibility of a new round of e-consumption vouchers for residents, the group added. Prior to the latest June 18 outbreak, all permanent and non-permanent residents have already been entitled to consumption vouchers of MOP8,000 each and cash handouts of up to MOP10,000 each this year.

After more than a month of anti-coronavirus restrictive measures, including a 12-day partial lockdown that all non-essential businesses were forced to be shuttered, the city has entered the six-day stabilisation period since this Tuesday, in which most restrictions have been lifted. Macau has reported no COVID-19 cases in the community since July 23.

The ACM also suggested that individuals and entities that were not covered by one-off subsidies in the first MOP10-billion package should receive grants in this new round of relief package.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng will attend a plenary session of the Legislative Assembly next Tuesday (Aug 9), when he will respond to enquiries from legislators. It is expected a wide range of topics will be covered, including the details of the second relief packages and measures to spike the local economy.