On February 13, the government announced a series of economic support measures for residents and companies, including tax relief and subsidies for small and medium-sized enterprises. It also introduced an economic-stimulus package of electronic consumption vouchers, worth MOP3,000 each, for every resident.
A respected local scholar believes these measures are like a “timely rainfall. Ye Guiping, associate vice president of the City University of Macau and director of the Macau Social and Economic Development Research Center, said they will play an active and effective role in stemming the worst effects of the outbreak on the economy. However, he is also looking forward to seeing the government propose more measures, as Macau clearly needs to be prepared to fight a protracted, longer-term battle to ensure people’s livelihoods are not impaired by the coronavirus outbreak.
Ye said that in response to the impact of the epidemic, the government has so far made some hard decisions and moved quickly to provide relief through tax exemptions, loan assistance, interest-payment subsidies, and the voucher package, which should boost domestic demand. It has provided timely financial support to help reduce the operating costs of companies and stabilize consumption patterns. Unfortunately, however, it is still difficult to predict when the epidemic will be brought under control on the mainland, even though recent numbers suggest it is slowing down. And in the meantime, it will take awhile for the economy to recover from the shock of having so many businesses close down and so many people forced to stay at home. The government will need to think long-term, propose more measures to revitalize the economy, and make solid preparations for a “protracted offensive”.
Noting that the current situation in the country is still serious, Ye said it was beyond question that Macau must continue to strictly abide by its local prevention and control measures. Citizens must try to stay at home as much as possible, avoid large gatherings, and respond to the government’s calls for restraint and care. Companies in the meantime need to seize the opportunities presented to them in the form of economic aid measures and adjust their business strategies to match government policies, while at the same time looking for consumption targets and not lose faith in the strength of the market.
Ye pointed out that in its response to this epidemic, the new government’s team has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. It has effectively “fought on two fronts” by battling the epidemic and supporting the economy, as directed by President Xi Jinping. This is in line with the president’s expressed expectation that the Macau government will follow a people-oriented approach to governance.