Covid-19 economic Gov’t support is positive but may be insufficient – Legislators

Members of the Legislative Assembly (AL) from the pro-democracy camp told Lusa that the measures announced by the Government to reduce the economic and social impact of the outbreak are positive, but may be insufficient.

“The series of measures announced by the Government of Macau was considered a quick and timely response,” Au Kam San admitted to Lusa.

However, the legislator argued that the success of the measures implemented will depend on whether these, or the effects they produce, are not delayed due to the economic and social impact that is already being felt in Macau society.

In addition to the accounts that still need to be made and that result from the closure of public services, Au Kam San gave the example of the reduction or exemption from taxes “that will only be effective after a considerable period in the future”.

Even so, the deputy said that, to be fair, there are always many difficulties in guaranteeing immediate responses “in the face of sudden and imminent outbreaks (…), and at least this series of measures, although they do not take effect immediately, will play an important role in stabilizing people’s hearts”.

Au Kam San stressed that the approval process for loans to be granted to small and medium-sized enterprises, especially those dependent on tourism, should be accelerated. “Otherwise, (…) the bureaucracy will weaken the effectiveness of the measures”, he concluded.

Legislator Ng Kuok Cheong also told Lusa that the economic support announced by the Macau Government last week “at first seems positive”.

However, he also stressed that “it is necessary to give time and see what impact it will have on society”. Even so, the support was announced “quickly, which is good”, he considered.

On Friday, legislator Jose Pereira Coutinho told Lusa that the extraordinary measures were insufficient, largely because the economic impact resulting from the coronavirus outbreak exposed “many vulnerabilities in the existing labor legal system in Macau”.

The absence of union law regulation and collective bargaining “has always allowed all kinds of abuses in the face of the serious imbalance in the ‘scales of scales’ between employers and workers,” explained José Pereira Coutinho.

Also on Friday, legislator Sulu Sou Ka Hou maintained in statements to Lusa that the special measures of economic and social support announced on Thursday by the Government of Macau worth MOP2 billion “respond to the needs of many people”.

However, “it is still necessary to understand the reaction of the public”, he stressed, lamenting that “these measures do not include subsidies to incomes and wages”.

The youngest AL legislator argued that Macau has “structural economic capacity to adopt this type of measures”, but stressed that “problems such as high property prices”, the dependence on a single industry, “the only source of tourists”, as well as “the survival difficulties of small and medium-sized companies cannot be solved with money”.

The Macau govenrment has announced tax benefits for companies and the population, a line of soft loans for SMEs and social support measures to reduce the economic impact due to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Macau, which currently has five cases of coronavirus infection, closed the casinos for 15 days and ordered the closure of nightlife establishments, sports and cultural spaces, sent students and civil servants home, where they work remotely.

The exceptional measures have practically paralyzed the economy of the gambling capital of the world and whose tourism industry is also very dependent on visitors from the Chinese territory, where the Covid-19 coronavirus has already killed 1,770 people in mainland China and infected 70,548.

In addition to 1,770 dead in mainland China, there is one dead in the Chinese region of Hong Kong, one in the Philippines, one in Japan and one in France.