Economy secretary says 10B pataca relief fund is not for gaming companies

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong

Gaming companies will receive nothing from the government’s 10 billion pataca Covid-19 relief fund, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong said yesterday.
For the time being, no details have been disclosed about how the fund will operate and who will be eligible for this new support measure, with the government leaving such information for a future announcement to be made shortly after the fund’s establishment.
The government created the community relief fund worth 10 billion patacas late last month.
The community relief fund, which will be managed and distributed via the Macao Foundation, will provide financial support to both Macau residents and local businesses affected by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the sidelines of yesterday’s meeting of the Standing Committee for the Coordination of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Lei commented on the community relief fund, as he understands that the public is very concerned about the fund.
The SAR government is still determining how the fund will be used and a plan will be announced as soon as possible.
The secretary confirmed that none of the money will go to gaming companies.
“Temporarily, I can’t see that gaming companies should benefit of the relief,” said Lei.
The gross gaming revenue in March reached a low of 5.26 billion patacas, representing a year-on-year decline of 79.7%.
According to Lei, the amount is within the SAR government’s expectations. He also expressed his confidence that Macau’s business environment will return to normal once the pandemic situation slows down.
Currently, mainland China is restricting outbound travel of mainland residents, which has led to Macau suffering tremendously in economic terms.
At the current stage, provided both Macau and mainland China perform well in controlling Covid-19, Lei believes that the mainland’s restriction measures will soon be lifted.
“The most important thing for us is to have confidence,” said Lei.
It is unlikely that the SAR government will announce a detailed plan this week.
Meanwhile, Lei hopes that employees and employers can work together to get through the hardship of Covid-19.

DSAL records rise in unemployment

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong indicated that there are some 1,100 applications for unemployment certificates that were registered with the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL), an increase compared to previous years. So far, the official said that the trend of the dismissals are still not evident on whether it was due to the pandemic outbreak, but added that the government will be paying close attention to the situation. With regards to companies requiring workers to take leave without pay, the official reminded that there is a need for negotiation and agreement between the employer and the employee before a leave without pay will be implemented. Lei also said that the authorities have not received any case about employers forcing employees to accept unpaid leave. Regarding the salary reduction, both parties must be in agreement and that such decisions must be communicated to DSAL within ten days, in order to be considered valid. DSAL data shoes that up to April 1, a total of 27 wage reduction applications were received, involving 417 employees from 19 companies.

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