Macao residents can look forward to their MOP 8,000 handout from the government on 1 June after the budget amendment bill was given a green light yesterday.
The Legislative Assembly (AL) passed the 2022 budget amendment bill unanimously, which will enable the government to allocate MOP 7.2 billion from the extraordinary reserves to fund a new round of its electronic consumption benefit scheme and a programme of subsidising water and electricity bills of households and businesses.
As the government had requested an urgent procedure for the debate and vote of the bill, it was not reviewed by any of the AL’s standing committees before its final article-by-article debate and vote.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong introduced the outline of the amendment bill during yesterday’s plenary session in the legislature’s hemicycle.
Replying to lawmakers’ questions, Lei revealed that the government expects the upcoming round of the electronic consumption benefit scheme to get off the ground on 1 June, when each beneficiary will receive a MOP 5,000 start-up fund and a MOP 3,000 immediate discount grant, making MOP 8,000 in total, the same as last year’s programme – which only covered residents.
Lei also said that while Macao’s Covid-19 situation has remained stable, the “volatility” of the pandemic in neighbouring regions has adversely affected the government’s work on attracting visitors from a more diverse range of destinations, so Macao’s businesses companies and residents are facing enormous pressure on their operations and employment situation.
Lei said that the government aims for the financial support measures to boost local businesses and residents’ confidence about the city’s economic and employment prospects.
According to Lei, the government’s upcoming financial support measures comprise its electronic consumption benefit scheme and subsidies for households and businesses’ water and electricity bills. The government expects to spend MOP 5.92 billion on the new round of its e-consumption benefit scheme and MOP 1.326 billion on the water and electricity bills’ subsidy programme, Lei said, adding that the two programmes are expected to cost the Treasury MOP 7.246 billion.
Lei also said that the programme of subsidising households and businesses’ water and electricity bills will run for six months.
Lei pledged that the government will monitor possible price hikes in the retail market resulting from the new round of the e-consumption benefit scheme. The government will bar businesses found to have violated rules of the e-consumption benefit scheme, Lei said.
Lei also underlined that only after the Covid-19 situation in neighbouring regions stabilises could tourism recover and end Macao’s current economic predicament.
Lei reaffirmed that the government will need to continue to make prudent use of the financial reserves, which currently stand at around MOP 600 billion, The Macau Post Daily reported.