The Legislative Assembly (AL) passed on Thursday the government’s second budget amendment bill.
It was the second time that the government asked lawmakers to pass an amendment to the 2020 budget so that it can adjust its expenditure in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The government has said that it will spend billions of patacas on measures to support residents’ livelihoods and prop up the local economy, which has been severely affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong presented the amendment bill to the lawmakers during a plenary session in the legislature’s hemicycle on Thursday afternoon.
The bill was passed unanimously in an urgent procedure.
While all the legislators backed the government’s support measures, many of them called for a “third round” of subsidies to stabilise the economy and avoid layoffs in the private sector.
According to the amendment, the government will use the financial resources of the public Macau Foundation (FM) to cover its MOP-10-billion expenditure on economic support measures for residents, businesses and the self-employed. Another MOP 3.6 billion taken from the public coffers will be spent on a second round of consumption subsidy smartcards for local residents.
The government-issued smartcards allow residents to spend a total of 8,000 patacas in two rounds – 3,000 patacas in the first and 5,000 patacas in the second round – this year. Government officials have said the aim of the consumption subsidy is to boost the local economy, retail businesses and restaurants in particular. Non-resident workers are excluded from the subsidy. The first round of smartcard spending starts on May 1.