Macao’s annual wealth-sharing handout next year will once again be paid out in cash, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong has told lawmakers.
Lei made the announcement Friday during a Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle about his portfolio’s policy measures for next year.
The policy secretary said the government had listened to citizens about the way the handout should be paid out next year, and consequently decided that cash could continue to be the modus operandi.
The wealth-sharing handout was launched by the government in 2008. While its amounts have been adjusted from time to time, residents have received them every year since the scheme got off the ground.
Unchanged from this and last year, permanent residents will receive MOP 10,000 (US$1,250) while non-permanent residents will get MOP 6,000 next year.
Earlier this month, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng had said the government would gauge citizens’ opinions about which way they would prefer the handout to receive next year, in cash as in the past or as a top-up of their consumption subsidy smartcards.
The MOP 3,000 smartcards (known as “siu fai kat” in Cantonese) were issued by the government this year in the wake of the economic trough caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been topped up once, which has given residents another MOP 5,000 to spend. The cards expire at the end of this year.
Lei told the legislature Friday that the cash handout aimed to encourage residents to spend more in Macao, thereby supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular and keeping people’s jobs. Lei said this was a way of “supporting yourself and your friends”.
“Our consumption is directly related to our rice bowl,” he said.
The Secretary for Economy and Finance also said said that the government would keep an open mind on launching a third round of financial support measures next year, provided that this was economically warranted.
Lei also said he expected the government’s COVID-19 prevention and control measures to be “normalised” next year, adding that protecting residents’ lives and health would remain the government’s top priority.
Lei said Macao’s successful fight against the novel coronavirus disease was based on “unity” among the special administrative region’s population. Macao has recorded 46 COVID-19 cases since late January.
All the patients have been cured and discharged from hospital, and no facilities have been reported. Macao has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for over 150 days.
The policy secretary also said he expected Macao’s GDP to fall around 56 per cent this year. However, he also said that domestic demand was still able to support Macao’s economy, pointing out that the domestic market accounts for 66 per cent of GDP.