At this juncture, few will still doubt the impact of the coronavirus epidemic will be severe. Even if it all were miraculously over by tomorrow, the effects would always be felt in the months to come.
The situation in Macau seems stable in health terms, and we should be looking forward to getting back to our regular lives shortly. The full impact on our economy will take longer to assess.
The longer-term consequences depend on how the epidemics will evolve, in China and elsewhere. In particular, it depends a lot on how far the damage this crisis, which is by no means over yet, will make to the Chinese economy. Time will tell how profound and painful the effects will be. The nature and intensity of the risks it will pose for the Macau economy may still take months to get a full shape.
However, the short-term pain is inevitable and is already being felt. There is no way it could be prevented and cannot be avoided. We are lucky enough to be able to deal with this type of situation better than most. The casino boom provided the region with ample financial resources that were accumulated over the golden years and can be used to ease the pain inflicted by the current predicament.
The administration has shown its readiness to set exceptional measures to help individuals and businesses. The actions announced will come in various shapes and target both individuals and companies. They involve, namely, tax relief measures, exemptions of multiple taxes and fees, and loans in favorable conditions.
It is not yet clear how some of them will be implemented, or how they will relate to other already existing public mechanisms of similar nature. Further definition and details are needed to assess how effective these measures, or others that may yet be defined, can prove.
That said, in broad terms, they serve the purpose for which they are set up. They may help families and companies to offset some of the losses of income endured and avoid or attenuate further contractions in private consumption and investment.
They show that the government is aware of the difficulties and willing to act and signal a readiness to mobilize the region’s reserves to assist people in dealing with the immediate strains. They are not a solution for the longer-term problems this epidemic will create but can provide welcome short-term relief.