Commending the agility of the manufacturing sector to adapt in the face of increased global competition, the focus appears to be towards edging operators to new export markets namely Africa. The granting of a Freeport status to manufacturing companies with 100% export to Africa is testimony to it. Increased visibility into proposed changes to import duties allows for advanced planning. The abolition of the bank guarantee required for expatriate work permits as well as that of the AGOA levy will free up liquidity which is always welcomed. Finally the exemption of land conversion tax can only be an incentive to engage in manufacturing activities.
Budget measures mostly targeted at boosting demand from Russia and China
Rs 330m has been earmarked to revamp job placement for young men and women up to the age of 25. Whilst the intention is good, it remains to be seen to what extent the proposals will be implemented and desired results obtained.
Government is introducing new schemes such as tax exempt status for funds not requiring the benefit of Double Tax Treaty or the Regional Treasury Centre concept. In an effort to promote higher value added activities, Government has sent a clear message to the industry by making commercial substance a pre-requisite for qualifying for a Tax Residency Certificate in Mauritius. Whilst this move is welcomed, more could have been done to attract new international players such as asset managers and other professionals to improve the value chain and develop new service offerings.
A major boost is being given to the middle income group and first time home buyers. Relaxation of the rights to acquire property by foreigners should support the construction sector. More clarity will be provided towards the transfer of immovable property and Land Conversion Permits. Rationalisation of IRS and RES taxes should be a welcomed measure.
No major overhaul in the health sector. Measures are mostly targeted towards the improvement of existing healthcare infrastructure. New mediclinics are being planned to enhance accessibility. Yet no clear indication as to how revenue potential from foreign patients will be harnessed. Healthy living measures will be promoted through tax levy differentials on soft drinks and bottled water.
Government empowering the police force with additional manpower and sophisticated equipments including computer assisted tools, increased CCTV coverage, tracking systems.
The CSR guidelines will be amended to construct and improve existing child day care centres. Focused measures towards lower income groups to attend child care centers with a view to increase access to education. To widen tertiary education access, low cost student loans (up to Rs100,000 per annum) will be offered with the government underwriting the first 20%. Establishment of 3 new campuses to cater for the rising number of local and foreign students (visa schemes will be relaxed).