Permanent residents to get triple benefits

Friday, April 17, 2009
Issue 674, Page 1 & 2
Word count: 590
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah officially announced that this year’s cash handout scheme with the amounts of 6,000 and 3,600 patacas is expected to be launched mid-May.

Yesterday was Mr Ho’s first time in 2009 to attend the Legislative Assembly plenary meeting where he answered lawmakers’ questions in relation to government policies and social issues for two hours.

In response to Ho Teng Iat’s question concerning the newest cash handout scheme, the medical subsidy plan and the four percent home loans allowance scheme, the chief first said that permanent residents and non-permanent residents of Macau will get 6,000 and 3,600 patacas respectively.

Last year in the first edition of the cash handout scheme, the amounts stood at 5,000 and 3,000 patacas.

According to Mr Ho, the increase in the budget this year is decided after looking at the government income of 2008 and its accumulated surplus over the years, various issues and demands brought by the global financial crisis and also the principle of not causing pressure to the government finances in the future.

The related legislation is expected to be discussed within the Executive Council next week, and afterwards be deliberated in the form of an emergency procedure at the Legislative Assembly.

The chief executive told the lawmakers that the first batch of the cheques will be sent out to local residents in mid of next month at the soonest.

Health vouchers

On the other hand, the medical subsidy plan is another much awaited government measure by the public.

However, Mr Ho said only permanent residents will be entitled to receive health vouchers with a total value of 500 patacas.

Despite the study of security features on the vouchers has been completed, he added that this subsidy plan will be launched “a little bit later” than the cash handout scheme.

The chief executive said the health vouchers can be used for dental services, and in registered clinics of medical practitioners and Chinese medicine.

Yet, the plan is not applicable to the public hospital and medical institutes which are funded by the government.

In addition, Mr Ho said printing machines will be set up in multiple public departments for residents to withdraw health vouchers by using their smart identity cards.

The vouchers are transferable within a family but prohibited from resale.

A government supervision mechanism will be introduced to ensure the correct use of the subsidies.

By launching the medical subsidy plan, Mr Ho said the government hopes to ease the pressure of the public health system and make use of the opportunity to bring in family doctors to Macau.

Home loans allowance

The SAR government is planning to resume the scheme in which permanent residents when purchasing their first residential property worth below three million patacas will receive a four percent interest subsidy for the home loans.

The chief executive said the scheme had entered into the final stage of research and will be introduced “shortly”.

Mr Ho pointed out that the concept of the scheme this time is different from the one launched during the period of the Portuguese governance.

He told the legislature the new allowance aims to assist residents to own their homes, while in contrast the previous scheme was to stimulate sales of long vacant apartments in Macau.

In addition, this time first home buyers will not be restricted to select only existing apartments in order to benefit from the interest subsidy.

Mr Ho said talks between the government and the banking industry will continue in a bid to safeguard local residents’ biggest interests.

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