Lionel Leong: Series of schemes to recover city’s economy

Schemes include to hold large scale exhibitions to attract more spending in the city during the quiet month of September

While a series of measures to provide immediate assistance to SMEs, including interest-free loans and subsidies, were set up in the wake of the typhoon, Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong Vai Tac, states that several large-scale exhibitions to be hosted in concert with the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) should help drive more consumption to affected neighbourhoods.
These are part of the medium and long-term plans laid out for the MSAR’s economic recovery from Typhoon Hato, stated the Secretary on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of the new heads of the Macao Monetary Authority (AMCM) and Financial Intelligence Office (GIF), held yesterday.
“We are trying to attract customers to shop at areas that were heavily affected by flood,” said the Secretary. “[But] different areas suffered different levels of damage [...] so we have been contacting the regional chamber of commerce to understand the condition.”
The idea would be to encourage visitors to the exhibitions to visit and spend money in affected zones in particular.
Also, Secretary Leong revealed that Macao Economic Services (DSE) and the Macau Productivity and Technology Transfer Center (CPTTM) are paying visits to the affected stores studying whether elevated platforms can be built to prevent goods from being damaged during a flood.
The Secretary explained that this could help lower the level of risk, and reduce the insurance premiums that SMEs need to pay.
Regarding long-term schemes, Secretary Leong said more attention will be placed on improving the competitiveness of the old stores or SMEs.
“We need to ensure the quality of products [of these SMEs] in order to make them more competitive,” said the Secretary, while revealing that CPTTM would also assist the older stores in question with plans such as re-branding or packaging.
When asked about the use of cash vouchers to stimulate consumption, the Secretary said more studies on the technical terms should be performed to ensure the effectiveness of potential vouchers.
Meanwhile, in response to press enquiries, the Secretary said that the government currently is still able to handle the recovering work situation fiscally and that no budget review will be necessary.
However, the official said the Secretariat is still receiving assessment reports from departments relating to demands and enquiries after the typhoon.

Exceeded the total number recorded for the past ten years
The Secretary reported that the government had received a total of 13,000 applications for special funding and 6,000 applications for the MOP600,000 interest free loan as of yesterday.
“Since the introduction of the special loan in 2003 up until 2007, the received applications only reached 10,000,” said the official. “But as you can see, the number of applications we have received in the past 22 days have exceeded the total number received in the past decade.”
Up until yesterday, the DSE had approved over 5,000 applications.
Meanwhile, public opinions expressed online and through the media point out the special loans introduced by the government are not providing significant help.
“Elligible applicants can actually apply both for the special loan as well as for the special fund, in which the applicant can receive a total of MOP1.2 million,” suggested the Secretary.

Insurance claims after Hato involve MOP2.9 billion
The new head of Macao Monetary Authority (AMCM), Benjamin Chan Sau San, reported that there had been 1,900 cases of insurance claims related to the typhoon, involving an amount of MOP2.9 billion.
The new AMCM head, meanwhile, revealed that 90 per cent of the claims are covered by insurance companies outside of the city, hence no significant pressure is placed upon the local insurance companies.
On the other hand, AMCM had talks with the insurance sector on setting up policy that deals with catastrophes similar to those rolled out in other regions, or schemes that allow the insurance sector to help SMEs. Related talks are still at the preliminary stages, said Chan.
Yesterday, the inauguration ceremony of the new AMCM head and Chu Un I, the new Coordinator of the Financial Intelligence Office (GIF), were carried out at the Bank of China Building.

No supervision over cryptocurrency yet
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are considered as a product and not fiat currency, therefore no supervision is yet in place for its trade, said the new head of Macao Monetary Authority (AMCM), Chan Sau San, yesterday after the inauguration ceremony.
However, Chan said parties would need to apply for a license when cryptocurrency is involved in payment activities.