Over 3,400 residents signed up for unemployment benefits between January and August, 1.6 times more than last year, Social Security Fund (FSS) President Iong Kong Io told reporters on Wednesday.
Iong made the remarks on the sidelines of an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the fund at the Macao Science Centre in Nape on Wednesday.
Iong said that last year the fund gave out around MOP 144,000 in unemployment benefits, adding that between January and last month the fund already paid out over MOP 386,000. He added that the amount paid out in the first eight months of this year was already more than double the fund paid in jobless benefits during the whole of last year.
Iong blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the increase in unemployment benefit payments. The pandemic has affected Macao since 22 January, when its first novel coronavirus case was confirmed.
During the celebratory event, Iong reminded the audience that the government-run fund was established on 23 March 1990, and that its main goal was to protect local employees. He also said that over the years the government gradually reformed the fund and extended the coverage to all residents in Macao to provide basic old-age protection and later enabled residents to enjoy a more comfortable retirement through the implementation of the second-tier Non-mandatory Central Provident Fund System.
According to Iong, there are about 500,000 beneficiaries enrolled in the first tier of the government’s Social Security System, and there are about 120,000 old-age pension recipients now.
He also said that based on the second tier Non-mandatory Central Provident Fund System, 232 employers and more than 21,700 employees have been participating in the joint provident fund scheme since its implementation in 2018. He pointed out that more than 57,000 residents are participating in the individual provident fund scheme.
Iong said he hoped that through yesterday’s event, locals would be able to gain a better understanding of the fund’s two-tier social security system, which could convince residents to join it.
Scores of government officials and community and business leaders attended Wednesday’s celebration.