The government will study how to use its interest-free loan business support programme to help young local people open their start-ups in an area known as Hengqin Entrepreneurship Valley for Macau Youth, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac said Wednesday.
The policy secretary made the announcement after a meeting at the Macau World Trade Centre which was attended by representatives of the local government and senior officials from Zhuhai including the city’s mayor Jiang Ling.
It was the first time that Leong has hosted a meeting to discuss co-operation between the two cities since he took up his post in December.
When summarising the closed-door meeting, which lasted about two hours, Jiang said that there had been great progress in co-operation between the two cities.
Jiang also said that both sides would continue co-operating in the future development of the Guangdong-Macau Co-operation Industrial Park on Hengqin Island, adding that to better assist young Macau businesspeople in developing their start-ups, the Hengqin New Area Administrative Committee has launched the Hengqin Entrepreneurship Valley for Macau Youth scheme. According to Jiang, the scheme has a first-phase capital of two billion yuan to ensure financial support for young Macau people’s start-up companies.
The committee revealed the scheme last year, saying that it would provide a plot of land of about 120,000 square metres where young Macau entrepreneurs aged 18-45 years will be allowed to lease office space below the market rate. The scheme will include other types of support such as various subsidies.
Jiang also said that he hoped Hengqin could become a platform for Macau to diversify its economy.
“The Macau government has a programme to support young people wanting to start a business… the government is always looking into various ways of how to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), professionals and young entrepreneurs to grasp the business opportunities emerging from the development of Hengqin,” Leong said, adding the government would “seriously” study how the programme could be extended to the“Hengqin Entrepreneurship Valley for Macau Youth” and other regions.
The Macau Economic Services Bureau (DSC) started the programme in 2013 which provides interest-free loans to young people to help them start their own business. To be accepted, applicants must meet a string of requirements such being aged between 21 and 44 and being first-time entrepreneurs. The maximum loan is 300,000 patacas which can be repaid over a maximum of eight years. The bureau said in February it had approved about 90 million patacas in interest-free loans so far.
Currently, the programme only benefits Macau-based start-ups.
Leong said the government would be “cautious” when studying the feasibility of extending the programme as it involved public funds. (macaunews/macaupost)