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Government must proactively address the economic fallout from the epidemic

*Che Sai Wang

Macau has been suffering from the pandemic for three years. Although more than four months have passed since the Macao SAR Government lifted the restrictions, the “sequelae” such as price inflation, unemployment and underemployment, the livelihood difficulties of disadvantaged groups and the survival of small and medium-sized enterprises have not yet been adequately mitigated and resolved.

During the pandemic, the unemployed were unable to find full-time jobs and had to resort to part-time jobs to survive, earning meager income.

The underemployment rate in Macau reached 6.9 percent in 2022, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to 2021. Disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, single parents, children with special needs, caregivers and people with disabilities, they have to resort to various subsidies to make ends meet, and the amount of subsidies cannot keep up with rising prices, making their lives even more difficult.

Following the pandemic situation, inflation and prices rose in closes. I have received more and more complaints and reflections from citizens that the cost of living in Macao is becoming more and more expensive and some of the expenses are even higher than in Hong Kong. In desperation, more and more people are heading to Zhuhai to buy essential goods.

In March 2023, the Macau Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 104.28, but it is clear that this value does not truly reflect the reality of people’s lives. The CPI reflects the evolution of retail prices of consumer goods and services and can be used to analyze the impact on residents’ real expenditures. Its calculation method includes some non-livelihood items, such as plane tickets, which have declined sharply due to the pandemic, thus offsetting part of the increase. The CPI reflects inflation and the statistics require a realistic understanding of the various living indices of local residents. Therefore, statistical data should not be interpreted unilaterally, nor should data collection and compilation ignore the real situation in the name of data stability.

It is also important to mention that, in the next months of June and July, more than 3,000 local students finish their studies and go looking for a job. The Government must intensify its efforts to prioritize local employment and resolve the employment problem quickly and effectively.

Taking into account the various economic conditions, I believe that the Macao SAR Government should introduce measures to boost the economy as soon as possible. It must reduce the high unemployment rate and continue to support small and medium-sized enterprises, giving priority to local residents, especially students who are about to finish their degree.

Second, the Government must stabilize prices through macro-adjustment, in order to prevent residents from being forced to travel to other cities to buy essential goods.

Finally, although there are financial assistance measures, they are not able to fully support the elderly, single parents, children with special needs and people with disabilities, who live in difficult conditions and have little income. Therefore, the Government should also take other measures to help alleviate cost of living pressure.

*Association of Civil Service Workers of Macao

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