Government cautiously analysing support for SMEs and Macao’s anti-epidemic work

The Government would speed up its analysis of business conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as subsidy measures, with a view to providing support on financing, to help such businesses overcome difficulties experienced following the new COVID-19 cases reported in Macao in August and September respectively.

The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Lei Wai Nong, today made the remarks on the sidelines of the National Day reception hosted by the Government in celebration of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The Government had closely monitored and analysed changes to the local economy, in order to take timely measures. The Government planned to spend 22.5 billion patacas on community support measures, according to its annual budget. In March, the Government had launched additional support measures involving 7 billion patacas of public spending.

Secretary Lei stressed the Government had sufficient resources to ensure rebound of the economy. The Government was evaluating the impact on the economy of recent events, including on revenues from the gaming sector, which took up more than 80 percent of Government income. There might be a need to revise the Government budget at year end, he added.

Tourism was a pillar industry in Macao, said Mr Lei. The Government had launched campaigns to promote Macao as a safe city and quality destination for tourism; and as a place offering economic and trade services.

Secretary Lei called on members of the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination would not only help protect individuals and their family members, but also contribute to reinforcing Macao’s image as a safe city, therefore helping it to attract more tourists.

When asked by reporters, Mr Lei said the public consultation on proposed revisions to Law no. 16/2001 ("Legal Framework for the Operations of Casino Games of Fortune"), would not be extended beyond its current deadline. As well as consultation sessions that the public could attend in person, there were other ways for them to express their views, including via either email or post. The scheduled public sessions would be organised in accordance with guidelines from the health authorities.

The Government paid close attention to change in the unemployment rate, and devoted great effort to providing occupational matching services and vocational training. Mr Lei noted unemployment for Macao ID holders as registered in the June to August period, was 3.7 percent. Monthly declarations of either unemployment or underemployment made to the Labour Affairs Bureau had peaked at 7,100 instances during one of the months in the period from June to August, and then fell to about 5,800. A total of 210 applications for unemployment subsidy had been submitted to the Government, added Mr Lei.

Also on the sidelines of the National Day reception, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U, gave more information on the epidemic-control work being done in collaboration with Guangdong.

Regarding the management of yellow code zones, Guangdong and Macao agreed – during a meeting on Thursday (30 September) that people in such zones would need to take a nucleic acid test every day. The Government had immediately given notice to people affected, and had set up a dedicated testing station at the Patane Municipal Market near the yellow code zones.

Guangdong’s Health Commission proposed during Thursday’s meeting, that the yellow code zones should be completely sealed off, and no one should be allowed out. Secretary Ao Ieong said Macao was inclined to keep its existing arrangement, as people in such zones were evaluated as having a low risk of infection.

The Government would adjust its anti-epidemic effort in a timely way, as necessary. Should there be a need to strengthen control of yellow code zones, the Government would announce that accordingly in a timely manner, she added.

Starting from 25 October, school staff and students of tertiary education institutions; and teaching staff of non-tertiary education schools, will be required to present proof of having received at least a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Alternatively, they can present a ‘negative’ nucleic acid test result based on a sample analysed within seven days of that individual entering the school in question.

Secretary Ao Ieong said this step had been decided on because it was necessary to strengthen protection for school staff and students, as schools were the main places for study, and for activities done in groups. She also made an appeal to those had not yet been vaccinated, to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.

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