The Macau Economic Bureau (DSE) said in a statement on Monday that, since February 1, it has received about 2,500 applications for financial assistance from small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) hit by the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.
According to a DSE statement, the bureau has also responded to 7,000 requests for information about its various financial support schemes since the beginning of last month, when the novel coronavirus started to impact the local economy in earnest.
Among the 2,500 applications, 1,328 requested an interest-free loan of up to 600,000 patacas (the maximum granted by the bureau; US$75,000), repayable in up to eight years. According to the statement, 446 of the applications have meanwhile been assessed, of which 344 have been approved.
A total of 1,151 applicants requested loan repayment adjustments, of which 1,081 have meanwhile been approved. Fourteen applicants asked for a bank credit guarantee, one of which has meanwhile been approved. The government’s bank credit guarantee plan for SMEs guarantees 70 percent of a bank loan of up to MOP 7 million (US$875,000).
The government said last month it was rolling out a string of additional support measures for Macau’s SMEs in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Many SMEs are understood to be struggling to pay the city’s sky-high commercial leases as their revenues have declined dramatically since the novel coronavirus epidemic began to severely impact Macau early last month.
The central government has halted individual and group travel permits to Macau for over a month in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus from the mainland to Macau. Many local SMEs, those in the retail and restaurant sectors in particular, depend heavily on customers from the Chinese mainland.