A future round of measures to support businesses struggling to get back on their feet due to the COVID-19 crisis is expected to be fine-tuned to meet the specific needs of certain sectors, such as private construction and creative industries, said lawmaker and Macau delegate to the National People’s Congress (NPC) Chui Sai Peng.
In an interview with Macau News Agency (MNA), Mr Chui praised the Government’s first batch of polices for “trying to help as many people as possible,” through subsidies, relief measures and the e-voucher scheme aimed at rebooting consumption in the city with an impact on eateries and supermarkets, “businesses that employ a significant share of the local labour market.”
However Mr Chui is concerned about the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that are still struggling. “I think, gradually, as more policies will be rolled out, authorities will fine tune measures to certain sectors.”
Creative industries and private construction in need of support
Cultural and creative industries agents are in need of support, as operas, shows and concerts have all been cancelled over the past three months due to public health concerns, since these activities involve gatherings of people. Mr Chui points out that as “these businesses are not likely to get back to normal for some time,” there is a need for specific measures directed at cultural and creative agents, something that the Cultural Affairs Bureau is already looking into, he notes.
Another sector that is feeling the pinch of the crisis is private construction. While public works projects are being sped up by the government as a way to maintain jobs and economic activity, the private construction industry also needs to be addressed, Mr Chui suggests.
“The construction industry employs a lot of people. We are talking about jobs that serve the real economy, as we need more houses.” A way to expedite private construction could be “granting licenses more consistently and faster.”
GBA visitors to save the day
Meanwhile, the reboot of Macau’s economic activity is dependent on the easing of restrictions related to cross-border traveling, something that is entirely subject to how the COVID-19 situation evolves at a global scale.
Nevertheless, there is a silver lining regarding what one could expect from mainland China, as the pandemic is brought under control. Chui Sai Peng stresses “everything depends on how open our borders will be.” While it may take time for the city to welcome international visitors, there is hope that the city will soon start to gradually receive tourists from the neighbouring Guangdong province.
“Hopefully we can open the door more and more, to Zhuhai and the Greater Bay Area (GBA). That will be good for Macau already, and big sign of relief for everybody,” Mr Chui emphasises, while noting that in the past visitors from Guangdong used to account for about two-thirds of the total number of tourists coming from mainland China.
Chui Sai Peng is the founder and director of CAA City Planning and Engineering Consultants Ltd. and is the chairman of the Macao Young Entrepreneur Incubation Centre.