Residents of Macau, the Vegas of the East, can look forward to a double payday starting from today. The government begins paying out the Wealth Partaking Scheme early, with the first payments going out on April 12, 2021.
The first day of distribution for these Wealth Partaking payments coincides with an announcement regarding Macau’s third COVID stimulus package.
The government usually sends out the Wealth Partaking Scheme payments in the summer. But they’ve moved the scheme up in an effort to get the economic ball rolling. It will work in conjunction with the stimulus package. The Secretariat for Economy and Finance is due to announce the details of the package today. The Secretariat are holding the full press briefing in the Economic and Technological Development Bureau.
The Macau government’s tax revenues from the casino industry were down for 2020. The government reported takings of MOP$29.81 billion (US$3.72 billion) in 2020. This number marked a significant drop from the MOP$112.71 billion (US$14.08 billion) they reported for 2019.
Wealth Partaking Scheme is the standard, if clunky, translation of “現金分享計劃”/”Plano de comparticipação pecuniária no desenvolvimento económico.”
The scheme is the Macanese government’s way of sharing out some of the wealth garnered from the SAR’s economic development. This development is largely gambling and tourism-based. Every summer, holders of Macau Resident Identity cards receive a cash payment from the government that reflects the area’s corporate tax receipts.
This year, the government moved Wealth Partaking Scheme payments up from the summer to April 12, 2021. ID-card holders who are permanent residents can look forward to a 10,000 pataca (~$1,250) payment, while non-permanent residents will be receiving MOP$6,000 (~$750).
These payments will be doled out in age order, starting with senior citizens. The last payments should be with their recipients by the end of May.
The Macanese populace can also look forward to another COVID stimulus payment around the same time.
The hope is that the stimulus will be sent out on “consumption cards.”
These are straightforward prepaid cards. They were the chosen method for the very first COVID stimulus in 2020.
The second stimulus of 2020, however, was the subject of widespread criticism. Instead of cards, recipients received an MOP$600 voucher. But in order to receive the first voucher, they had to spend their money, send in receipts, and then receive a voucher for further purchases. Good Keynesian thinking, but hugely inconvenient and enormously bureaucratic.
By sending in receipts for the purchases on each voucher, people were able to apply for up to five vouchers total. This made for a maximum of MOP$3,600 (~$375) worth of spending.
The amount of the stimulus this time around had not yet been specified. However, should the government follow the advice of lawmakers in the Legislative Assembly last week, the cards will be loaded with at least MOP$5,000.
The last time cards were used, the amount was MOP$8,000 per person. This MOP$8k was doled out in two payments onto the card of MOP$3,000 and MOP$8,000.
Macau is battling reduced tourism and Chinese junket crackdowns that strike at the heart of it’s main economic drivers, the Casinos. Coming at the end of a particularly rough tax year, the stimulus and early Wealth Partaking Scheme payments are a lifeline that many in the SAR will be hugely grateful for.
Featured image source: Flickr by Chris Hoare