[This article has been published in this month’s Macau Business magazine and further new policies have been announced since time of publishing]
Government will provide more tax breaks and financial support measures to ease Covid-19 economic impact
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong announced more measures to reduce the economic impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
These measures include the reduction and exemption from taxes and fees; the launch of support and credit bonus plans for SMEs; reinforcement of measures to support disadvantaged families; reinforcement of work technical training actions; and providing online consumer vouchers to boost economic recovery.
“We know the uncertainties suffered by the local society caused by this epidemic, but the only solution is to face the situation head-on,” Secretary Lei stated during a press conference on the virus containment efforts.
Concerning tax breaks and adjustments, several measures were announced, namely:
– A deduction in the 2019 Complementary Income Tax (ICR) to a maximum amount of MOP300,000, in a measure said to benefit 2,970 companies and SMEs.
– About 70 per cent of the Professional Tax will be returned, up to the limit value of MOP20,000, due and paid for the year 2018, covering some 170,000 workers.
– The percentage deducted to the Professional Tax tax base for the year 2020 will be increased from the current 25 per cent to 30 per cent, covering 180,000 workers
– Exempt all Macau residents housing units from paying property tax for 2020, benefiting a total of 180,000 housing units, while at the same time deducting 25 per cent of the property tax charged to buildings intended for commercial establishments, in a measure benefiting 25,000 establishments.
– Hotels, bars, health clubs, and karaoke establishments, will be exempt from paying off a 5 per cent tourism tax on consumption for a period of six months, with 854 establishments covered.
– Other measures include returning the circulation tax paid by all commercial vehicles; and to exempt or return the fees paid by all services and administrative bodies, for issuing administrative licenses and the respective stamp taxes paid for 2020.
Meanwhile, measures to support impacted local SMEs include launching a Credit Interest Bonus Plan targeting SMEs that have been granted credits by banking institutions, with authorities providing an interest subsidy, limited to 4 per cent, to loans up to a maximum amount of MOP2 million (US$250,007) for a maximum period of three years.
Local SMEs in operations in Macau for a minim period of three years could request a credit guarantee covering a full bank loan for specific projects costing up to MOP1 million, with the repayment period not surpassing five years
SMEs in operation for a period lower than two years will also be eligible to receive interest-free support up to MOP600,000, to be repaid within eight years.
Meanwhile, SME’s who have been in operation for at least a year can request a credit guarantee covering up to 70 per cent of a bank loan up to MOP4.9 million, to be repaid within eight years
Local permanent residents that already benefit from this year’s Health Care Reimbursement Plan will also receive an extra MOP600 voucher for medical expenses connected to the virus
Residents will also receive a three-month subsidy for the payment of house electricity and water tariffs, with underprivileged families assigned two more months of Social Affairs Bureau support.
The SAR Government will also allocate an electronic consumption voucher for each resident of Macau, with a nominal value of MOP3,000, able to be used in restaurants, retail outlets, shopping centers, etc., for a maximum period of three months.
The government also vowed that, after the epidemic situation is controlled, it will aim to improve the professional skills of local workers so that they can perform the large number of jobs that will be in demand after when the Government increases its investments in infrastructure.
This measure would include electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, plasterers, ironworkers, refrigeration and air conditioning technicians, technicians for assembling prefabricated elements, heads of construction sites, among other occupations.
Most measures still require the respective legislation to be completed, with their exact enforcement date yet to be announced.
Previously, the Macau government had already announced some financial measures due to the crisis, such as providing the annual wealth partaking scheme vouchers to residents earlier in April, and exempting rents charged by the government to commercial venues.