Gov’t announces restart of consumer e-card scheme

Following public opposition to the previous consumer e-voucher scheme, the Macau SAR government announced today (Monday) a restart of the previous consumer e-card scheme but with some elements added from the scrapped plan.

The new round will run from June to December, with each permanent or non-permanent residence permit holder receiving MOP5,000 plus MOP3,000 in additional discounts.

In total authorities predict some MOP5.9 billion will be injected into the local economy via this scheme.

As in the previous two consumer card rounds advanced last year, the initial MOP5,000 provided will have a maximum daily limit of MOP300, with the amounts not able to be used to pay utility bills, health bills or spent in financial institutions or casinos.

Residents can choose to obtain the funds in question through the digital wallet of a local mobile payment institution or the electronic consumer card from last year.

According to the Director of the Economic Services Bureau (DSE), Tai Kin Ip, eight locally registered mobile payment e-wallets will be available to residents.

The additional MOP3,000 in discounts will provide 25 per cent of consumption made, so for example after the MOP300 daily limit is used, an extra MOP100 in discounts will be provided.

Therefore the plan requires residents to spend first before receiving the discounts, an element included in the previously cancelled consumer e-voucher scheme.

According to government examples, if a resident purchases a MOP4 beverage it will be provided with a MOP1 or 25 per cent discount.

“The objective of the plan is to boost the internal consumption in Macau and stabilize the economy. We heard the opinions from different sectors following the previous plan on how to simplify it and many people suggested an initial amount to be provided,” Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong said today.

“The main purpose is to ease the daily economic pressure suffered by residents”

The plan will still require approval from the Legislative Assembly and complementary legislation to be advanced.

Macau residents must register for the round via the Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM) online system, with the registration period scheduled to take place between May and December.

If residents choose the mobile platform method, the funds will be automatically injected into the relevant account at the beginning of the usage period, if the electronic consumption card is chosen, it is necessary to charge it by reading the card during the period established for that purpose.

The consumer e-card plan was announced the day before Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng is to attend a Legislative Assembly session to respond to legislators’ questions.

When inquired why the scheme did not include non-resident workers (blue cards), Secretary Lei stated that the government will still hear opinions from the public to decide on this matter.

After considering the opposing views expressed by the local society regarding the proposed e-voucher scheme, authorities have decided to postpone the plan for evaluation and improvement.

Announced as part of a string of new government financial stimulus measures, the previous MOP5 billion e-voucher consumer planned to allow any local resident, including non-resident workers and students, to receive different value vouchers following purchases made via mobile payment platforms.

The policy required residents to spend first leading to several criticisms from legislators and associations that demanded a repeat of the previous consumer card plan, which granted about MOP8,000 per resident over two rounds totalling MOP5.8 billion.