Macao residents can expect their traditional cash hand-out from the government next year, despite the financial difficulties wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The debate and vote of the outline of the 2022 budget bill is scheduled to be held on Thursday. The government will continue to run a budget deficit.
After being examined by lawmakers, the bill will be reviewed by a standing committee before it is resubmitted to another plenary session for its second and final debate and vote.
According to the bill, the government is proposing to allocate MOP 30.3 billion from the Macao Special Administrative Region’s (MSAR) extraordinary reserves so that it can keep a formally balanced budget.
The 2022 budget bill’s explanatory note does not mention how much each local resident will receive for next year’s hand-out.
The cash hand-out has been paid out by the government annually since 2008, when each permanent resident received MOP 5,000 while each non-permanent resident received MOP 3,000. Since then, the amount had been gradually increased, before it reached MOP 10,000 for permanent residents and MOP 6,000 for non-permanent residents in 2019.
Macao’s economy, which is heavily reliant on the gaming and tourism sectors, has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic which started early last year. As a result, the government has run a budget deficit since last year.
After the proposed MOP 30.3-billion cash injection from the MSAR’s extraordinary reserves, the 2022 budget bill predicts the government’s revenue to reach MOP 100.1 billion, while expenditure is budgeted at MOP 99.4 billion.
According to the bill, the government expects the gaming industry to generate MOP 130 billion in gross gaming revenue next year.
The government is predicting that the situation of Macao’s economy next year will remain “critical”.
The government is also forecasting its direct gaming tax to amount to MOP 45.5 billion next year.
The government says that without the proposed cash injection from the extraordinary reserves, its revenue next year would not be able to cover its expenditure, due to an expected decrease in its direct gaming tax, while the government would continue with the implementation of its subsidies and benefits, as well as public infrastructure projects.
According to the 2022 budget bill, the government expects to spend MOP 8.39 billion on welfare measures such as cash hand-outs, health vouchers, subsidies to residential households’ electricity bills and continuing education subsidies.
The government expects to spend MOP 12.04 billion on allowances for the education sector, old-age pensions, disability pensions and disadvantaged families.
In total, the subsidies, allowances and benefits are expected to cost the government MOP 20.44 billion next year, The Macau Post Daily reported.