One of Macao’s leading business figures has criticised the government’s newly launched plan to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), suggesting it is too little and too late.
Melinda Chan Mei Yi, vice-chairwoman of the Federal General Commercial Association of Macau Small and Medium Enterprises, commented that the measures only benefit those who made “zero” profit in 2020. She added that she believed that “even with a MOP 100,000 profit last year, a business could barely sustain itself this year” due to the latest Covid-19 developments in Macao.
Chan told The Macau Post Daily that among the eight support measures, the “bank policy” – extending the repayment period and temporarily only paying back the interest but not the loan – could benefit local SMEs the most. However, she added that the policies still had “room for improvement”.
She pointed out that the economy was better last year compared to this year, stressing that 2021 is the year when businesses have been affected the most.
Chan said that some members of her association claimed that their businesses only made a few thousand patacas profit last year, adding that if the current economic situation continues, even with a profit of MOP 100,000 from last year they could barely sustain their operations.
Chan said that the government’s scheme that urges private property owners to reduce their rents also had “grey areas” as it neglected the fact that previously some property owners had already reduced their rents and the scheme may give renters the “false idea” that the owner might lower their rents again, which could result in conflict.
Chan urged the government to consider launching measures targeting businesses located in locked-down Red or Yellow Code Zones during the current Covid-19 crisis.
She also suggested that the government provide immediate financial support for small entertainment venues, such as beauty parlours, karaoke bars and pubs, as they had been forced to suspend their businesses twice this year due to the novel coronavirus situation in Macao.
Chan said she believed that the government should focus on launching some mid-to-long-term support schemes in order to give SMEs a sense of security. She pointed out that as the Covid-19 pandemic developments in the city have yet to stabilise, the government should launch policies to avoid business closures, which could result in a higher unemployment rate.