COVID-19 causes fiscal deficit of US$5 billion in Macau

6 March 2020

The various measures adopted by the Government of Macau to support small and medium-sized enterprises and the population of the territory are expected to cause a budget deficit of 40 billion patacas (US$5 billion), said on Thursday the Secretary for the Economy and Finance.

Lei Wai Nong also said during the daily press conference on developments in Macau related to COVID-19 said payment of a second “wealth sharing” cheque this year was out of the question, as the government will spend a lot of money on the measures to support businesses and residents, as well as other measures to revive the economy of the territory.

At the end of January, secretary Lei announced that the payment of the annual cheque would be brought forward to April, as one of the measures to help the economy recover from the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 and the measures that have been put in place in order to prevent its spread.

Thus, there will only be one cheque in the amount of 10,000 patacas (US$1,250) for permanent residents and 6,000 patacas (US$750) for non-residents, a measure that will cost an estimated 7.1 billion patacas (US$887.5 million).

Lei Wai Nong recalled that the Macau financial reserve currently amounts to 0.57 trillion patacas, which he described as the money that has been accumulated by everyone in Macau over the last two decades since the administration of Macau returned to China.

The secretary recalled the set of measures for support due to the outbreak of COVID-19, such as providing each Macau resident with a pre-paid electronic consumer card, with a nominal value of 3,000 patacas, to be used within a period of three months at restaurants, retail venues, shopping centres and other establishments. The card is expected to boost local consumption and increase demand.

The electronic consumer card has been attributed to Macau permanent residents and non-permanent resident and the public expenditure involved in the scheme is expected to be around 2.2 billion patacas.

There will also be an exemption from payment of water and electricity tariffs for housing units/subsidised payment of water and electricity rates for housing units from March to May. The government expects to spend 55 million patacas on subsidising water rates and 240 million patacas on electricity.

The same measure shall be applied to retail establishments, although the water and electricity rate measures do not apply to casinos and hotels with a three-star rating, or higher, or to government entities.

This measure involves public spending of an estimated 18 million patacas, in relation to water, and 240 million patacas in relation to electricity. (macauhub)