Gov’t launches new round of support to SMEs, low-income residents

The government yesterday announced a new set of support measures for struggling small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and low-income residents as the pandemic crisis continues to threaten local businesses.
Resident workers, who earned less than MOP144,000 in 2020, and qualified freelancers will get MOP10,000 as part of the latest support scheme from the government.
Similar to previous rounds of support, in order to obtain eligibility, these resident workers must have completed their tax registrations for the concerned fiscal year. Eligibility will thus rely on the taxation records with the Financial Services Bureau (DSF).
Not only will part of the resident workforce benefit from the support scheme, business operators, when criteria met, will also be subsidized between MOP10,000 to MOP200,000.
In order to be eligible, business operators – registered payers of Revenue Supplementary Tax and Occupational Tax (Group 2) – ought to have made no profit in their operations in the 2020 fiscal year.
Eligible business operators will receive, from the government, a subsidy amounting to 5% of the average operational costs in the last three years.
Other elements in the support scheme also include the Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) encouraging providers of the Simply Pay service to offer service charge deduction or rebate for half a year.
The Simply Pay payment gateway is a government-led consolidated mobile payment channel incorporating eight local mobile payment platforms, such as the MPay operated by the Macau Pass and the BOC Pay by the Bank of China, Macau Branch.

The AMCM will encourage local banks to adjust loan repayment plans for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Such adjustments will be reflected for interest repayment only, and extension of loan validity, among other means that the banks deem appropriate and of which the risks are controllable.
Tenants of government premises will also benefit from this support scheme. The government will waive three months of rental and remuneration on tenants of such properties.
Moreover, the government will encourage local landlords to conduct similar measures. The government’s incentive measure will reflect in the lowering of taxations. Landlords who are willing to lower rentals can apply to the DSF for a rebate on Housing Tax and Stamp Duty on Rental.
The DSF will operate such applications at a designated counter so as to speed up the application procedure.
The application to the Bank Credit Interest Rebate Plan for Small and Medium Enterprises is temporarily open, with an interest rebate on bank credits being provided to SMEs of up to 4%, with a validity of three years. The application period for the plan will last for 12 months.
Meanwhile, SMEs that have operated for only one year are now eligible to apply for the eight-year government loan of MOP600,000 at maximum.
The application period for the delayed government loan repayment has been postponed and will run to the end of January 2023. Companies that are repaying the loans can request a reduction in the amount of each of the last two installments not repaid to MOP1,000, with the remaining amounts being repaid, in equal parts, in the remaining instalments.
The government explained that the new support scheme is implemented due to the recent instability of the Covid-19 epidemic situation, which has made a great impact on the economy. Public opinions have thus called on the government to provide adequate support to affected SMEs.

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