Some MOP 1.46 billion (US$183.4 million) from the public coffers have already been injected into local businesses in the first month and a half of the government’s consumption subsidy smartcard scheme, Economic Services Bureau (DSE) Director Tai Kin Ip said on Monday.
Tai made the announcement during a press conference at the Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) in Nape, during which the mid-term report about the scheme was presented.
The consumption subsidy smartcard scheme – known in Cantonese as “siufai kat” – is part of the government’s effort to stimulate the local economy, support local businesses, stabilise the job market and relieve livelihood difficulties during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Under the scheme’s first round, each Macau permanent and non-permanent residents has been given MOP 3,000 from the government through a contactless stored-value smartcard, and residents can spend the money by placing it over MacauPass terminals installed at local shops or businesses for goods and services between May 1 and July 31, with maximum spending set at MOP 300 per day.
The government has since announced a second round of the scheme where resident will get MOP 5,000 to spend from August to December.
According to Tai, based on his bureau’s report about the use of the card between May 1 and June 15, residents have already spent MOP 1.46 billion in the first one and a half months of the first round.
“This money has quickly been injected into the consumption market, effectively stabilising domestic demand,” Tai said, adding, “The businesses that benefited from the consumption smartcard are wide-ranging, and about 60 per cent of the amount has gone to small- and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs].”
The report, presented during the press conference, shows that 600,171 residents had picked up their consumption smartcards until June 15, and on average each resident had spent MOP 2,481 on their card. Total spending until June 15 was MOP 1.46 billion, made from 15.64 million transactions, and each transaction amounted to MOP 93 on average.
Residents can pick up their cards until July 17 from the Economic Services Bureau and three other public administration offices. Over 90 per cent of the 658,768 residents who registered for the scheme have already collected their cards.
The report shows that 24.2 per cent of the MOP 1.46 billion was spent in the food and beverage sector, while 70 per cent was spent in the retail sector.
In addition, the report indicates that over 60 per cent of F&B outlets and over 40 per cent of retail outlets found that 50 per cent or more of their business was generated by the consumption card.
The report also points out that in May when the cards started to be used, the consumer price index stood at 103.03, according to Statistics and Census Service (DSEC), while the inflation rate amounted to 1.67 per cent, which was lower than in April. The report also underlines that many businesses have rolled out special offers for consumers using the cards, which further encouraged spending.
Tai said that the scheme has achieved its policy aim, and the government is preparing for the second round of the scheme, which will run between August and December.
According to Tai, top-up points will be installed at banks, government offices and associations’ premises before August to make it convenient, fast and flexible for residents to top up their cards with MOP 5,000 from the government for the second round of the scheme.
“Some people have lost their cards but half of them have been found after reporting them lost to the police,” Tai said, urging residents to keep their card in a safe place so that they can top it up for the second round of the scheme.
Tai reminded residents that the MOP 3,000 pataca amount from the first round expires on July 31, because any amount remaining in the card after July 31 would return to the public coffers.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Macau Photo Agency