Sunibel Corporate Services

Mauritius publishes Finance Act 2020 following the 2020-2021 Budget

To provide for the implementation of the measures announced in the Budget 2020-2021, Mauritius published the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, which was enacted on 7th August 2020. Please find below a highlight of the new measures relevant to our industry.

 

Being compliant with international ideals

On 9th July 2020, the Government of Mauritius approved the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 to strengthen its framework against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Click here for more information.

 

To encourage a dynamic Banking sector

The Bank of Mauritius Act was revised to:

  • introduce the concept of “digital currency” as the central bank digital currency issued by the Bank under section 35(1); (b);
  • introduce “digital banking business”, a type of banking business carried out through digital means or electronically;
  • redefine “significant interest”, that now includes the ability, directly or indirectly, alone or together with a related party or the power, to appoint 20% or more of the members of the board of a financial institution.

 

For a more transparent and diversified business environment

To align to international best practices, the Companies Act has been amended to:

  • the Board of directors of a public company shall always include at least 2 independent directors, defined as a director;
  • any director who fails to comply with legal provisions “shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding MUR 100,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months”; and
  • establishment of Credit Scoring Services Agency.

Furthermore, the Economic Development Board Act was amended and the Smart and Innovative Mauritius Development Scheme was introduced. This scheme concerns projects in the fields of:

  • data economy;
  • smart manufacturing and assembly of electric vehicles;
  • additive manufacturing;
  • life sciences and biotechnology;
  • high-tech farming and smart agriculture;
  • virtual economy; and
  • training programmes in any of the above fields.

 

Taxation

Tax holidays

An 8-year income tax exemption is granted to a company :

  • on income derived from manufacturing of nutraceutical products, provided it began its operations on or after 4th June 2020;
  • under a new inland aquaculture scheme, which also includes a duty and VAT exemption on equipment, to promote the blue economy; and
  • approved by the Higher Education Commission as a branch campus of top 500 tertiary worldwide institutions, provided it started operating on or after 4th June 2020.

 

Opening up of the economy

The criteria for granting Residence Permits have been reviewed and will be effective as from 2nd September 2020.

Residents of Mauritius

  • Non-citizen holding immovable property under the Integrated Resort scheme, Invest hotel Scheme, Property Development Scheme or Smart City Scheme whose value is not less than USD 375,000 will have the status of resident;
  • parents of holders of a valid Residence Permit (RP), Occupation Permit (OP), and those non-citizens coming to serve the government under the Service to Mauritius Programme for a period not exceeding 3 years, will have the status of resident.

 

Permanent Residence

The validity period of the Permanent Residence is extended from 10 to 20 years, under the following conditions and according to the type of permit.

Investor

Criteria for eligibility for PR before 1st September 2020: Minimum cumulative turnover of MUR 12 million during 3 years preceding the application.

Criteria for eligibility for PR as from 2nd September 2020:

  • Minimum investment of USD 375,000 in a qualifying business activity; and
  • holder of OP for at least 3 years and minimum annual gross income of MUR 15 million for last 3 years.

Self-employed

Criteria for eligibility for PR before 1st September 2020: Minimum cumulative business income of MUR 2.4 million during 3 years preceding the application.

Criteria for eligibility for PR  as from 02 September 2020: Holder of OP and annual business income of MUR 3 million annual business Income for 3 consecutive years.

Professional

Criteria for eligibility for PR before 1st September 2020:

  • ICT/BPO sector: Monthly basic salary of MUR 30,000 during the last 3 years; and
  • Other professional sectors: monthly basic salary of MUR 60,000 during the last 3 years.

Criteria for eligibility for PR as from 02 September 2020: Holder of OP as professional or work permit for at least 3 years and basic monthly salary of at least MUR 150,000.

Retired non-citizen

Criteria for eligibility for PR before 1st September 2020: Minimum monthly transfer of USD 1,500 during the last 3 years and cumulative transfer of USD 54,000 during the period of 3 years.

Criteria for eligibility for PR  as from 02 September 2020: Holder of RP for the last 3 years and minimum transfer of USD 54,000 during the period of 3 years.

 

Investor

  • Initial investment of USD 50,000 instead of USD 100,000;
  • For existing businesses, Net Asset Value of USD 50,000 and cumulative turnover of MUR 12 million for the last 3 years;
  • MUR 4 million per year from the 3rd year for renewal; and
  • Occupation Permit issued for a period of 3 years and valid on 1st September 2020 extended for a period of 10 years as from the date of expiry.

 

 Professional

  • Monthly basic salary of MUR 30,000 applicable for ICT, BPO, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and food processing sectors;
  • For any other sector, the basic monthly salary is MUR 60,000;
  • A holder of an OP as professional may invest in any business provided that he
    • is not employed in the business;
    • does not manage the business; and
    • does not derive any salary/mployment benefits from the business.

 

Self-employed

  • Initial investment of USD 35,000 and should engage in services sector only;
  • Minimum of MUR 800,000 per year as business income required for renewal of permit; and
  • OP issued for a period of 3 years and valid on 1st September 2020 extended for a period of 10 years as from the date of expiry.

 

Retired non-citizen

  • Occupation Permit issued for a period of 3 yearsvalid on 1st September 2020 and extended for a period of 10 years as from the date of expiry;
  • Initial transfer of at least USD 1,500 at the time of the issue of the permit;
  • Monthly transfer of USD 1,500 thereafter and the aggregate of which will be at least USD 18,000 yearly during the 10 years validity of the RP;
  • A holder of a retired non-citizen may invest in any business provided that he
    • is not employed in the business;
    • does not manage the business; and
    • does not derive any salary/mployment benefits from the business.

 

Young professional Occupation Permit

  • Completion of at least an undergraduate degree in a local tertiary education institution recognised by the Higher Education Commission.

 

Click here to read the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020.

Disclaimer

This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be used for, tax or legal advice. We may put you in contact with tax and legal advisers in this regard.

Although all information and opinions contained herein have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable and trustworthy, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to their accuracy or completeness, and, to the extent permitted by law, Sunibel Corporate Services Ltd, its members, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in the article or for any decision based on it. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice.

For more information, please see our terms and conditions.

 


 

Mauritius Budget Brief 2020-2021

5 June 2020

The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development of the Republic of Mauritius, the Honourable Dr Renganaden Padayachy, on 4th June 2020 presented the National Budget. Call it coincidence, but history will retain that the first budget for a second consecutive mandate by the present Government in terms of timing could not be better as the country will have to sail through one of the hardest moment of its history.  This is the defining moment…

Themed “Our New Normal: The Economy of Life”, the Budget aims to guide the economy and population on the path to healing and growth during these times of global and local economic slowdown, rising unemployment and low morale, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also continues on it objective of building an innovative environment favourable to both local and foreign investment, with the overall objective of transforming Mauritius into a high-income economy.

After the Brexit and multiple threats of a full-blown trade war between two of the biggest economies of the world, which caused some economic uncertainty, the beginning of 2020 has seen the world facing yet another, more significant, challenge; the COVID-19 has brought the world, and the global economy, to its knees. In the local context, the pandemic has heavily affected the economic activity of the country since the end of March. For the fiscal year 2019/20, inflation was 2.2% but is expected to increase to 4% for 2020/21, unemployment rate is predicted to reach 17% by the end of the year and the GDP is expected to contract and approximate the -7% for 2020/21.

The Government has set out its plans to boost the economy and find “our new normal” which will consist also in setting new foundations for a more prosperous country: green initiatives, attracting foreign talents and investments, digital and innovative sectors are earmarked as drivers of future growth. Meanwhile, the Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC), with a MUR 80bn capital, will act in a similar way to a Sovereign Fund, is expected to support the recovery of key sectors, and invest into future growth drivers.

Mauritius is the leading African country for Ease of Doing Business. To further strengthen and improve the business ecosystem for local and foreign investors, the Budget highlighted a series of business facilitation measures, with a particular emphasis on SMEs and the “Made in Mauritius” label.

The Budget also aims to reinforce the standard and trustworthiness of our Financial Services sector and further consolidate the position of Mauritius as a transparent and reputed International Financial Centre (IFC), fully compliant with FATF recommendations. Furthermore, to diversify the sector’s offerings, five new financial services products (as detailed below) will be introduced to enhance the existing offerings.

Nitin Collappen, Managing Director at Sunibel Corporate Services, has time and again, emphasised on the importance of opening our borders to foreign talents who will contribute to the development of the Mauritius economy as a whole, not only in the Financial Services sector, but in other innovative sectors as well. He says he “positively welcome the measures aimed at attracting more expatriates and investors, as the Government focuses on the development of innovative sectors such as Fintech, green initiatives and blue economy.”

The Government now needs to engage in the efficient and effective implementation of these measures to reach “Our New Normal: The Economy of Life”.

 

Financial Services

Ensuring compliance with international standards

Following the adoption of a new list of third countries by the European Commission, measures have been announced to accelerate the implementation of the five remaining recommendations under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan by September 2020.

The following measures will be put in place to meet the requirements of the FATF:

  • Risk-based assessment for conformity.
  • Sensitisation programmes on risks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism.
  • Financial sanctions in cases of terrorism financing.
  • Real-time access on information on ultimate beneficiary ownership.
  • Introduction of a new AML/CFT (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
  • Setting up of a Financial Offences Court.

 

Start-ups and SMEs

  • Setting up a Venture Capital Market on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius for start-ups and SMEs.
  • New Credit Check for SMEs and MMEs to assess their credit worthiness.
  • Broader access to factoring facilities through Maubank to SMEs.

 

Establishing Mauritius as a Fintech hub for the region

  • Introduction of the Central Bank Digital Currency in line with the 10 year Blue Print.
  • Introduction of a framework for digital banking and amending the Banking Act accordingly.
  • Expediting the implementation of the Centralised KYC project through Bank of Mauritius.
  • Upgrade the Mauritius Credit Information Bureau (MCIB) platform to provide credit scoring for potential borrowers.

 

Diversifying the product base of the Mauritius IFC

To diversify to financial products Mauritius offers, the Budget sets out to introduce:

  • A digital currency by the Bank of Mauritius.
  • An insurance wrapper to capture specified income and activities.
  • A Variable Capital Company (VCC) framework, offering flexible corporate structure to complement the existing investment fund structures available.
  • The issuance of Sukuks by the Bank of Mauritius.
  • A framework for the Blue and Green bonds by the Bank of Mauritius.
  • A new framework to regulate online banking, private banking and wealth management for banks.

 

Improving the business ecosystem

To further improve the business environment for our investors and foster further economic development, the Government will undertake a review of the regulatory framework in four key sectors of the economy, including:

  • Land Use and Construction
  • Trade and logistics
  • Tourism
  • Healthcare and Lifesciences

 

Business facilitation

Enhancement of public service delivery to businesses with a Digital platform by the Corporate and Business Registration Department (CBRD) as a central repository for all business information and licenses.

 

Alignment to International Best Practices

  • Directors will be liable for prejudicial conducts, which will be defined in the Companies Act.
  • All public companies will need to have at least 2 independent and non-executive directors on their Board of Directors.
  • Any creditor will be able to request the liquidator/receiver manager to furnish any financial information in relation to a company.
  • The fees for re-instating companies will be reduced from MUR 15,000 to MUR 5,000, and the requirements for giving notice will be done online.
  • Registration of Ultimate Beneficial Owners as well as VAT registration will be made at time of business registration.
  • The Bank of Mauritius will provide credit score of potential borrowers.
  • Public sector agencies will publish their Service Level Agreements.
  • Special efforts will be made to ensure timely enforcement of contracts and settlement of commercial disputes.

 

Taxation

Partial Exemption Regime

  • 80% Partial Exemption Regime on interest income does not cover the following:
    • Non-bank deposit taking institutions;
    • Money changers;
    • Foreign exchange dealers;
    • Insurance companies;
    • Leasing companies; and
    • Companies providing factoring, hire purchase facilities or credit sale facilities.

 

Tax holidays

  • 8-year tax holiday for companies engaged in:
    • Inland aquaculture scheme;
    • Manufacture of nutraceutical products subject to operations started on or after 4th June 2020; and
    • Manufacture of pharmaceutical products, medical devices or high-tech products if the company has started operations on or after 8th June 2017.
  • 8-year tax holiday for worldwide institution setting up branch campuses in Mauritius.

 

Tax exemptions

  • Pharmaceutical industry: VAT exemption for medical research and development centres on construction materials and specialised equipment.
  • Blue Economy: VAT and duty exemption on equipment for inland aquaculture.
  • Education: VAT exemption on IT and IT related materials and equipment used for online education for international educational institutions.

 

Opening up of the economy

Occupation Permit (OP)

  • Minimum monthly salary of MUR 30,000, initially applicable to ICT professionals to obtain an Occupation Permit, will be extended to other sectors.
  • Work Permit and Residence Permit to be issued as one permit instead of two separate documents.
  • An OP validity will be increased to 10 years, and renewable.
  • The minimum investment requirement for an OP as Investor will be reduced to USD 50,000, instead of the initial USD 100,000.
  • Removal of the minimum turnover and investment requirement for Innovator Occupation Permit.
  • Holders of an OP will not have any shareholding restrictions to invest in other ventures.

 

Dependents of Occupation Permit holders

  • OP holders will be allowed to bring their parents as their dependents
  • No restriction for spouses of OP holders to work in Mauritius

 

Residence Permit (RP)

  • The validity of Retired non-citizens RP to be increased from 3 to 10 years.
  • Residence Permit holders who have held the permit for three consecutive years will be eligible to apply for the PRP (20 years).
  • Retired non-citizens holding a RP will not have any shareholding restrictions to invest in other ventures.
  • Non-citizens who have a residence permit under IRS, RES, PDS or Smart City Schemes, will be exempted from an OP or Work Permit to invest and work in Mauritius.
  • For a holder of an immovable property to obtain a residence permit, the minimum investment amount will be reduced to USD 375,000, from USD 500,000.

 

Permanent Residence Permit (PRP)

  • PRP validity extended from 10 to 20 years, in addition to the existing turnover and salary criteria being removed.
  • Existing OP holders, who have held the permit for three consecutive years, will be eligible to apply for the PRP.
  • For an investor to directly obtain a PRP, the minimum investment amount will be reduced from USD 500,000 to USD 375,000.

 

Work Permit

Work Permit and Residence Permit will now be issued as one permit instead of two separate documents.

 

Acquisition of Property

Non-citizens, who hold a RP, an OP, or a PRP, will be authorised to acquire one plot of serviced land not exceeding 2,100m², for residential purposes, in Smart Cities.

Upon enactment, this measure will be valid for a period of 2 years ending 30th June 2022.

 

The rising level of public debt remains a concern for both for the government and of international organisations. However, we should remain positive about the outlook for the country. The next 2 years are going to be difficult and, during these challenging times, building-up a favourable investment climate through the opening up of the borders and the development in high-potential ventures are bold but necessary measures to reach “our new normal”.

Click here to read the full version of the budget speech.

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be very happy to help.

 

Disclaimer

This article was prepared by Sunibel Corporate Services Ltd, and the information it contains are based primarily on the announcements made by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in his budget speech. The measures announced are subject to parliamentary discussion and approval, and may change upon enactment of the Finance Act in due course.

While all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this Budget Brief, no representation of warranty, whether expressed or implied, is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this article, and, to the extent permitted by law, Sunibel Corporate Services Ltd, its members, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in the article or for any decision based on it. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice.

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