Government launches fresh package to assist SMEs, low-income residents

The Macau SAR Government has announced on Monday morning a new round of measures to assist Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and low-income residents struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. 

The package includes eight measures aimed at “maintaining the survival of commercial establishments and ensure employment”, according to a press release issued by the Secretariat for Economy and Finance.

Each Macau SAR resident who is a professional taxpayer and has earned income from work during 2020 of no more than MOP144,000, as well as all self-employed professionals who meet the requirements, will get a MOP 10,000 cash handout.

Business income taxpayers and those under the 2ndgroup of the Macau professional tax regime who have not obtained operating profits during 2020 are granted cash support in an amount ranging from MOP 10,000 to MOP 200,000 calculated on the basis of 5% of the average operating costs incurred by them in the last three years.

Authorities are also launching an interest rebate scheme for bank loans.  

The temporary plan is open for applications and SMES can benefit from a maximum of 4% interest subsidy for their bank loans granted by the Government, every year, up to a maximum of three years. SMEs can apply for this scheme in the coming 12 months. 

Authorities are also moving forward with easing of requirements to apply for interest-free loans. The minimum period of activity for eligible SMEs has been reduced from two years to one year. Companies meeting the criteria can apply for an interest-free loan of up to MOP 600,000, with a repayment term of up to 8 years.

In addition, the Economic and Technological Development Bureau (DSEDT) has extended the deadline to apply for a previously announcement scheme concerning adjustments to interest-free loan repayment by one year, to January 31, 2023.

The Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM) is also encouraging banks to adjust loan repayment programs for SMEs. The city’s banking watchdog is also calling on financial institutions adhering to the Simple Pay service to provide, for a period of half a year, reduction, exemption or offers in terms of fees charged by the acquirers on SME transactions made through Simple Pay, in order to reduce the costs of commercial establishments.

The Government is also moving on with a three-month suspension of rent collection for companies renting properties belonging to the Administration or other public entities. Another move aimed at reducing rental costs is being adopted by the Financial Services Bureau (DSF), which will readjust the effective amount of the collection of the urban property tax and the stamp tax on leased buildings, according to the month in which the rent starts to be reduced, “creating a specific window for receiving requests reducing taxes and speeding up the processing of the respective requests”.