Cards cannot be used for utility bills, ferry & air tickets, in casinos & banks
Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon, also the spokesman for the government’s top advisory Executive Council, announced on Thursday that local residents can register to obtain a 3,000-pataca consumption e-card from next Wednesday to April 8, before they can start to pick up the card between April 14 and April 30, while they will need to use their cards between May 1 and July 31.
Both permanent and non-permanent residents are entitled to the consumption e-card scheme.
According to Cheong, the e-card cannot be used for paying utility bills such as water, electricity and telecom services, neither can it be used to buy ferry and air tickets. Residents also cannot use their e-cards to pay for outbound tourism services and health services. In addition, the e-card cannot be used in casinos, pawnshops, banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, Cheong said.
Addressing a press conference at Government Headquarters, Cheong pointed out that the government has finished drafting a by-law regulating its consumption e-card scheme, officially known as Consumption Subsidy Scheme.
Government-drafted by-laws, officially known as administrative regulations, do not require the legislature’s approval.
Cheong said that the new administrative regulation will take effect next Tuesday after its promulgation in the Official Gazette (BO) next Monday.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong announced last month that the government will issue a 3,000-pataca consumption e-voucher to all local residents once the COVID-19 epidemic in Macau has eased, with the aim of boosting local consumption – which has been hit hard by the epidemic – and benefiting local SMEs in various sectors.
The e-voucher will be a card operated by MacauPass. Lei said at that time that in order to ensure the effectiveness of the e-voucher scheme to boost local demand, the holders would need to use it within three months and they can only spend up to 300 patacas per day. Lei said last month that the government expected to spend 2.2 billion patacas on the scheme, which would cover businesses such as restaurants, retail outlets and department stores.
Lei told reporters early this month that residents can start to register on the website of the Macau Monetary Authority (AMCM) from around the middle of this month, before they can start to pick up their e-cards from the middle of next month at a venue they have selected when registering on the AMCM website. The venues will comprise 32 places in government premises and 130 local bank branches, according to Lei, who said that residents will only have to present their ID cards when picking up their consumption e-cards.
During Thursday’s press conference, Cheong said that businesses such as retail outlets and eateries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic as the number of visitors to Macau has dropped enormously and local residents’ willingness to consume has seen a significant decrease, adding that the operations of local SMEs are under significant pressure.
Cheong said that it was necessary for the local government to implement specific measures to boost consumption and local demand after the COVID-19 epidemic stabilised and eased. He said that was the reason why the government decided to launch the consumption e-card scheme.
Scheme to cost 2.19 billion patacas
Cheong said that according to the new administrative regulation about the scheme, local residents who have signed up for the scheme within a specified period of time are entitled to obtain a 3,000-pataca consumption e-card. The holders will need to use their cards within three months and they can only spend up to 300 patacas per day, Cheong said, adding that the government expects to spend 2.19 billion patacas on the scheme.
Cheong said that the 3,000-pataca consumption subsidy cannot be converted into cash, and can only be used to buy goods and services.
However, according to Cheong, the e-card cannot be used either for paying bills such as for tap water, electricity, natural gas and other fuels, telecom and TV services. Neither can the e-card be used to pay for cross-border transport services – such as buying ferry tickets and air tickets, outbound tourism services, and health services, Cheong said.
In addition, the e-card cannot be used in casinos, pawnshops, banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, according to the administrative regulation, which also stipulates that residents cannot use their e-cards to buy goods and services provided in and by these venues.
Cheong also said that a chief executive order will also be published in the Official Gazette, according to which local residents can register for the consumption subsidy scheme from March 18 to April 8, before they can start to pick up their consumption e-cards from April 14 until 30. Residents will need to use their e-cards between May 1 and July 31.
E-cards are transferable
Cheong said that after a local resident has registered for the scheme, he or she can designate another person to pick up the e-card. Cheong pointed out that the e-cards are transferable so that residents can use other people’s e-cards. Cheong said the government decided not to bar residents from using other people’s e-cards for the simple reason that the scheme aims to boost local consumption.
Cheong also noted that if a resident does not use all the 3,000 patacas, after the three-month period, the remainder will return to the public coffers.
Cheong also reaffirmed that 80 per cent of retail outlets have set up a MacauPass terminal. Cheong acknowledged that some SMEs, particularly vendors in wet markets, have still not set up a MacauPass terminal, adding that they still have time to do so as the e-card scheme will only commence in May. The policy secretary urged SMEs which want to set up one to contact the MacauPass company for the installation. The government has underlined that the company will not charge retail outlets for the installation.
Cheong insisted that the e-card scheme won’t push up the city’s inflation rate, as the cards will only be used within a three-month period.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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