Acquisition of business in Mauritius – how to avoid the traps.

I believe it is crucial to understand the ins and outs while thinking of taking over a business in a foreign land. Here’s a reblog of the original post for those who missed it.

Invest & relocate to Mauritius. All you need to know, from the experts

Business scamWhile reading the news or browsing through online forums and other social media, one often comes across sad stories of foreigners getting trapped after buying what promised to be a lucrative business venture.  Victims are often investors who want to invest and settle down in Mauritius.  And often they end up with little choice than to pack up and return to their home country empty-handed.  Once home they start from scratch all over again as all funds and assets have been spent up while pursuing their Mauritian dream.

For such people Mauritius then, with reason in some cases, becomes a land full of evil-minded businessmen.  It is of course unfair to generalize and categorize Mauritius as crook-island, but the blow can be so hard at times that such negativity can be understood.

Let me reassure you that Mauritius is far from being as bad.  Our island is not full of…

View original post 1,506 more words

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Invest in Mauritius, there’s lots more than real-estate.

While researching the keywords ‘invest in Mauritius’, one is flooded with real estate offers so much that it misleads people to understand that this is the only option for investment on the island. Investing in real estate is one thing but investment in general is another. Mauritius offers a much wider choice of investment opportunities for those who want to fructify their funds. The strategy to attract foreign capital and expertise revolves around quite a complete framework which includes active investment (business creation) and passive investment (real-estate, retired permit schemes). The global objective is to transform the island into a dynamic and performing economy. It’s quite painful to see real-estate being promoted under the word ‘invest’ – which clearly is not, I’ll explain my perspective below.

The aggressive use of the term investment in Mauritian real-estate context is quite misleading, more so when it is targeted towards foreign capital. The real-estate sector of Mauritius is accessible to foreigners under certain conditions and schemes as regulated under the Non-Citizens (Property Restrictions) Act. By extension, the market and the opportunities for ‘business’ are therefore limited. It is quite obvious that the natural beauty of the island (mixed with the general socio-political & climatic stability) adds to the appeal. Still these features do not justify the high priced properties available under the schemes designed for foreign acquisition. We are not to the level of major cities where life is complemented with high-level facilities (casino, night-life, road infrastructure, exclusive brands, etc.). So now, betting on the beauty of our beaches, for instance, to level real-estate prices to Paris or Malibu, does not make sense. Not at all ! Given the price, I wouldn’t even consider this as an investment. It’s annoying, passive and excessive commercial stunt.

There seem to be a global acceptance among real-estate professionals to bet on the word ‘investment’ – and this, in my humble opinion, is wrong and misleading. Buying a villa in the foreigners’ schemes cannot be an investment in the real sense of the word. First, cashing out is a very unlikely event. What is the real purpose of holding an ‘investment’ which cannot be converted into liquid asset at a profit? It is indeed quite difficult to sell at a profit seen the number of ‘new’ projects on the market. A second hand property won’t be sold at the same price as a new (if you want to add a profit on your villa for sale, it comes close to the price of a new one). Cast a look around, it seems that every single village on the island has a luxury villa site. The supply far exceeds the demand.

Add to the above, a restrictive market. The prices of these villas are not accessible to Mauritians. So if you are holding a property in those schemes; first you cannot literally sell with a profit and second, you need to mostly target a non-Mauritian. There are so many villa owners in quite a desperate situation, trying to cashout on their ‘investment’, in vain.

In these circumstances, where is the concept of ‘investment’ ? Holiday rentals of the property will never be able to match the services of our highly performing hotel industry, with all its resources. Some promoters have been promoting short-stay rentals as a major profitability argument, and clearly it is not.

In terms of profitability and dynamism, there are many other more ‘interesting’ options. Mauritius is above all a business friendly country; the overall legal and fiscal frameworks have been designed to promote entrepreneurship initiatives. Company formation is completed within 5 working days. Business incentives are numerous: 15% tax on profits (not on income), social charges are kept to a reasonable low (10% approximately of basic salary, topped at Rs16,655 max salary), training costs refunded by the government, no capital gains tax and tax-free dividends. The list can be extended where proposed business falls within the ‘encouraged’ industry sectors. The Freeport sector, for instance, allows for 0% tax, important duty-free concessions and cutting-edge logistic support, all in one of the best and safest ports in the region. Besides business incentives, the island in itself offers major advantages to those who want to invest and/or set-up their business. Stability (political, social and climatic), absence of exchange control, IT infrastructure and connectivity, air and marine access, presence of international financial institutions or the multilateral preference trade zone agreements – these are some of the reasons why Mauritius is an ideal business destination.

Now, simply ignoring these to ‘hold your cash’ in selective property with a restrictive market does simply not make sense to the intelligent and avid investor. Of course, risk is proportional to reward and no one can deny the risk involved in a business venture. That having said, who can guarantee a profitable transaction on the sale of a villa years after, in a restrictive market and in the presence of overflowing offers. All these leads me to believe that ‘investment’ is not the appropriate word in the present circumstances. You are simply ‘buying’ a villa and surely not ‘investing’.

 

We recommend high caution when considering the purchase of a luxury villa for the purpose of investment.

If you are looking for a return on investment, talk to a financial consultant, not a real-estate agent !

(c) http://www.gibsonandhills.com

 

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Living in Mauritius, changes to residency permit schemes

In its quest of making Mauritius a destination of excellence, the government has brought changes to its already attractive residency permit schemes. The strategy of opening the doors of the island, in a selective way, has proven to be effective in bringing foreign direct investment and expertise to the country.  We all know that the country is constantly moving forward, always on the lookout to improve and plans to be a high-income earning nation in the future. Attracting foreign capital and expertise is part and parcel of an overall strategy to boost the island’s economy and uplift quality of life of its citizens.

The Board of Investment operates different categories under the Occupation Permit scheme; Investor, Self-Employed and Professional. There’s also a Residency Permit scheme for Retired Non-Citizens (aged 50 or more) who want to live peacefully under the sun. At first glance, the conditions leading to these permits, and their renewals, have been further relaxed – and therefore we expect to attract even more foreigners on the island.

What are the changes?

We provide you, in a concise format, the changes that have been brought to the existing residency schemes.

The Occupation Permit/ Residence Permit is granted for a maximum period of three years, renewable thereafter subject to established criteria.

A non-citizen can apply for an OP/RP under any of the following 4 categories:

Investor:

  1. Initial transfer of USD 100,000 and the business activity should generate an annual turnover of at least MUR 2 million for the first year and cumulative turnover of at least MUR 10 million for the subsequent two years.
  2. Existing investor with a net asset value of at least USD 100,000 and a cumulative turnover of MUR 12 million during the preceding 3 years with a turnover of at least MUR 2 million in any one year.
  3. Individual who has inherited a business in case of death or incapacity of the previous investor provided that the net asset value of the business is at least USD 100,000 and a cumulative turnover of MUR 12 million with a turnover of at least MUR 2 million in any one year.
  4. An Investor wishing to bring in high-tech machinery and equipment as part of the investment of USD 100,000, must transfer a minimum of USD 25,000 and the remaining balance in terms of high-tech machinery and equipment.
  5. Investors conducting Research and Development (R&D) in highly innovative sectors can apply for an Innovator Occupation Permit. The R&D expense component should constitute of at least 20% of total operational expenditure during the research phase.  Applicants eligible to apply under this scheme will be required to make an initial investment of USD 40,000.

Professional: Basic salary should exceed MUR 60,000 monthly. However, the basic salary for professionals in the ICT Sector should exceed MUR 30, 000 monthly.

Self-Employed: Income from the business activity should exceed MUR 600,000 annually for the first two years of activity with an initial investment of USD 35,000.

The annual income has been increased from MUR 600,000 to MUR 1,200,000 as from the third year of activity.

Retired Non-Citizen: The Retired Non-Citizen must undertake to transfer to his/her local bank account in Mauritius an initial transfer of at least USD 2,500. Thereafter, the Retired Non-Citizen should transfer at least USD 2,500 monthly or a sum by instalments amounting to at least USD 30,000 annually.

Dependents of Occupation/ Residence Permit holders, namely spouse, children up to the age of 24 and common-law partner, are also eligible to apply for a residence permit in Mauritius.

How can we help?

We have been providing business creation, management and immigration services to hundreds of people and businesses over the years. Immigration is a core service that is based on one philosophy: ensure the best physical, legal and moral disposition during a relocation project.

At the heart of our concern is the peace of mind of our client and his family.

Our services are not limited to paperwork. Find out more, contact us !

Posted in Business, Business Facilitation Act, Immigration, Investment, Mauritius, Occupation Permit, Residence Permit, Residency, Retired Permit, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to open a restaurant in Mauritius

 

image2As a world-class tourist destination, Mauritius is inevitably an appropriate place to host a restaurant. Without doubt, this is one of the favourite businesses among foreign investors. French, Italian, Indian – you find it all on the island. The cuisine of a country is a reflexion of its culture, it is said.

 

As Mauritius is a blend of cultures from different regions of the world, so is its cuisine. Over the years, the island has developed its own scents and flavours, but all are inspired from other parts of the world; Africa, India, Europe, etc. But this is not the subject of our article. And neither am I going to replace Gordon Ramsey. Let’s rather see how we go about setting-up a restaurant in paradise-island. This post is more to help those who want to invest in Mauritius find some preliminary information on the steps required to open a restaurant on the island.

US-Campaign

The first thing to understand is ‘authorization’, i.e. license. If a restaurant has more than 40 seats, it is classified as a Tourism Enterprise, wherever it is situated. On the beachfront, deep inland, anywhere, it is classified as Tourism Enterprise. Hence, an application has to be made for a Tourism Enterprise License (TEL) to the Tourism Authority (TA). Below 40 seats, the restaurant has to apply for license from the Municipality of the town where it is situated, or from the District Council if in a village / rural area. Foreigners can only aspire to an investor permit if they invest in 40+ restaurants. The Board of Investment (BOI) does not recommend any Occupation Permit unless a Tourism Enterprise License is present.  In fact, the other condition for Occupation Permit is the minimum investment of USD100,000. With such an amount, one will obviously look at 40 seats or more.

The location, a key element

The physical location is crucial. If you are planning to open a restaurant, you should first ensure that the building / space has all the required authorization; construction or development permit or Building & Land Use Permit (BLP). The BLP confirms that the building is legally authorized, has been constructed according to approved plan and can be utilized as a commercial space (not necessarily as a restaurant in first instance). Once you have this assurance, you can move forward to signing your rental agreement with the landlord. I always advise to have a conditional clause therein where, if the Tourism Enterprise License application is not approved, the tenant can withdraw from the rental obligation without much damage.

Note that I refer to rental and not ownership. Foreigners cannot purchase immoveable property, unless under certain circumstances. This is governed under the Non-Citizens (Property Restrictions) Act.

The location also need to cater for adequate parking space. According to Tourism Authority guidelines, one parking space for every 8 meter square the restaurant has, as surface area.

 

Legal structure

Fortunately, Mauritius is a very simple business jurisdiction. For any business, commercial or professional activity, one would normally choose a domestic company as legal structure. This also applies to restaurant business; in fact, it is almost compulsory to have the restaurant registered under a company. First, because no investor can apply for Occupation Permit without a company and second because for Tourism Enterprise License purposes, a company is mandatory.  The Tourism Authority or the Board of Investment will not even entertain applications if not done through a properly registered domestic company.

 

Applying for the TEL

Application for TEL is made to the TA, through a precise set of documents. This includes, inter alia:

  1. Business Plan
  2. Company document (legal structure)
  3. Identity documents of directors and shareholders
  4. Site Plan
  5. Rental agreement
  6. Clearances from the Ministry of Health, Fire Services and the Police

An application is not considered as ‘complete’ unless all of the above are in the file. In the normal process, the application will be sent without clearances from the health department, fire services and police. These will be contacted by the Tourism Authority and will undertake their respective inspections once the Tourism Authority has received an application and contacted them. A report from each of the above bodies will be sent to Tourism Authority once inspection is effected. It is quite helpful for the applicant to stay in touch with all of them and to ensure that they communication are effectively despatched without delay. As consultants, we have initiate a good relationship with all those concerned and how well we know that without intervention in this ‘semi-internal’ communication process, the delays would be unbearable.

At this stage, the investor is not advised to start building or renovation works for his restaurant. The application for Tourism Enterprise License is based on a plan and concept, at the time of application. The Tourism Authority will issue a Letter of Intent, stating that it is favourable to such concept / plan and from there one can start spending the capital in the actual set-up. It has happened, in the past, that investors already spent huge amount in the set-up while waiting the outcome of their Tourism Enterprise License application. The license was not approved and investments lost. The Tourism Authority has reacted promptly and now issues a Letter of Intent. The base is approved but subject to certain conditions ; for example on the conditions that necessary clearances (health, fire, police, etc) are obtained. With a Letter of Intent in hand, the promoter can start building – while respecting applicable health & safety norms.

Once all is done and verified by the competent body, reports are sent to the Tourism Authority and the license is issued.

 

Other licenses

Depending on the concept and the promoter’s vision, a restaurant might also require additional licenses. For instance, a restaurant require a special license to sell alcoholic drinks. This license can be applied for to the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA). Again obtaining this license depends on other factors (again the health, fire and police clearance). No liquor license is issued until the TEL is obtained. The applicant also needs to have legal notices published in the press and the Government Gazette.

Halal certification is another element that requires due attention. Mauritius has an important Muslim population. As such halal certification is considered to be an advantage. Of course, if one is planning to sell alcohol, then halal is of no importance. Halal certification is issued by the Jummah Mosque or the Jamiat Ul Ulamah, two recognised authorities in the halal area. Halal is a certification that provides additional comfort to several sensible areas of a restaurant business, for example: meat quality, general food handling and manipulation, hygiene, cross-contamination, etc. With a halal certificate, a restaurant provides added guarantee, not only to the Muslim population but to people of other faiths also. Not surprising that in Mauritius, many prefer halal restaurants (despite not being Muslim).

We have provided you with a brief idea on what to prepare and what to expect when planning to open a restaurant in Mauritius. We cannot list all other underlying procedures and it wouldn’t be a brief and pleasant reading, despite being useful.

At Gibson & Hills we provide you with a complete set of solutions for the setting-up and management of restaurants in Mauritius.

We also help in establishing your operational bases and handle issues such as staffing, accounting set-up, stock and other control points & systems, Point of sale management and others. We have provided our services to several restaurants on the island, including those with international franchises. If you plan to venture in this business line, have a word with our team before placing your bets.

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

(c) May 2017

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Mauritius employment laws & regulations, the contract of employment

Given the success of our article (back in 2015), we thought necessary to come up with more information on employment relations in Mauritius. This article may hopefully give everyone an insight into the content of a usual contract of employment.

Future employers, I believe, would get some clear indications. Also, among our readers, are hundreds of foreigners who are considering possibilities to invest or work in Mauritius. They are likely to fall at eitherside of table; employer or employee.

Preface
The key element to any employment, is the agreement between the employer and the employee. This is defined through an employment contract where all the terms and conditions are agreed and signed by both parties. I often get questions from both sides asking explanations on certain conditions and clauses mentioned on the contract. The first curious thing to note is that (maybe in desperation) some people sign documents and engage themselves without giving due attention to the content of the agreement. An employment contract is first and foremost a legal agreement binding two parties; the employer & the employee.

It is therefore the duty of the future employee to read and understand the contents before signing. This should not be a chance-taking formality which is done when in need and which is discarded when no longer useful or interesting. The employer, obviously, is more familiar with the document as he normally would use the same format and conditions frequently. The onus of reading and understanding rests more on the employee. I list below some of the points that need special attention on an employment contract.

The base laws
Employment laws in Mauritius are defined as the Employments Rights Act. The Act lays the basics of employment laws of the country and covers almost every right of the employee and the employer. The Law is quite elaborate and provide precise and detailed information on applicable rules, obligations and right of both parties: the employer and the employee.

There are other rules and regulations, compiled under Remuneration Orders, to further complement and enforce, with precision, certain additional conditions based on the industry / activity sector of the employer. For instance, a watchman’s conditions of work may not totally be contained under the Employments Rights Act, which is rather a global set of base rules that govern employment conditions. A watchman will be required to work longer hours and generally has a different working environment compared to an office secretary. The Remuneration Orders take care of these specifities.

There are 30 Remuneration Orders covering specific industries. Those not falling under such orders are governed by the Employments Rights Act. Under this article, we are not addressing specifically the applicable rules, but rather the departure point of an employment relation: the contract of employment.

The parties
Parties are the persons / entity signing the contract. In an employment contract, there would be two parties: the Employer & the Employee. The parties should be clearly identified and defined on the contract. For instance the name of the employer (generally a corporate body) should be clearly written, as well as its legal domicile and the person representing it for the purpose of this contract and authorized to sign on its behalf. The employee’s name, address, ID card / Passport number should be mentioned.

Commencement and duration
Clear indication should be given on the start date of the contractual obligations (when the employment effectively begins) and the duration of the contract. If there is no defined duration, the contract should state so.

Termination
Similary there would be a clause governing termination. This covers notices for termination (resignation, for instance) : method to communicate notice, period of notice, etc. I’ve received many questions from employees who attempt at giving short notices, despite being fully aware of their contractual obligations. Again, when sigining a contract, every party is binding himself to certain conditions. It is totally dishonest to even attempt to escape an obligation which was signed in full consent and knowledge. This is often the case when an employee has a new job opening. Often the new employer is not willing to respect the notice period binding the new employee with his previous employer. In other words, the pressure is (finally) generated by another employer in an attempt to avail itself of the expertise without losing time. In so doing, he violates the right of another employer.

Not respecting a clause may lead to sanctions such as financial claims; particularly if there is a bond signed by both parties, or also when the early departure of the employee causes prejudice to the employer’s business.

Job Title, duties & responsibilities
This is an essential point. The very basis of a contract of employment is ‘Employment’ and the ultimate definition of ‘employment’ is the job title. This shall leave no room for ambiguity, misinterpretation and doubt. The post should be clearly defined on the document.

In many cases, the defining the post (usually in one or two words) does not readily define the duties and responsibilities assigned to the employee. Hence, it is very common to see, even in broad lines, a list of such duties and responsibilities defined in the contract. Such a list allows the employee to understand his area of intervention, generally his lower and upper limits under the contract.

The list of duties & responsibilities cannot be included in an exhaustive manner in the contract. It highlights the main areas of intervention and it generally ended with the clause stating ‘any duties or responsibilities that are generally assigned to such post’.

Probation period
Neither the employer nor the employee, at the time of signature of a contract, are able to fully appraise the reality of the employment. At the signature stage, there is only a theoretical appraisal of each other’s ability; the employee’s ability to fulfill his obligations and the employer’s ability to offer a position that suits the employee.

The probation period offers a ‘round of observation’ to both parties – offering each party the ability to fully appraise the day-to-day reality of the employment and whether it satisfies their needs. Usually this period is defined under the contract and can stretch for a period between 1 to 3 months. In case the employer is not fully satisfied with the employee’s (under probation) performance, the probation period can further be extended, during which corrective measures and adjustments are carried out.

The employer normally reserves the right not to proceed with the confirmation of the contract if the probation period is not successful. All conditions of the probation period should be mentionned in the employment contract.

Place & Hours of work
Where an employer has a fixed location and hours of work, it is quite usual to see these mentioned straight away in the contract. In other cases, these may be described in general (or broad terms) but still should not leave any space for ambiguity. Any such broad clause should be written in such a way that all parties have a clear understanding of the conditions. Leaving slight confusion or space for misinterpretation eventually leads to dispute.

In the event that an employer has different sites and that the employee may be moved from one site to another, the employer has the reponsibility to state such facts on his contract. The employee should, at all time, be aware of geographic mutation and, where possible the conditions (notices, procedures, etc.) that leads to such transfer. Again, giving as much precision on the contract reduces the occurence of dispute. Of course, such information can only be written if known at the time of signature of the contract.

Remuneration & other benefits
One of the most obvious and essential clauses on a contract ! Nobody offers a contract where the remuneration is not mentioned in a clear and absolute manner – and nobody obviously accept such contract. Quite surprisingly I have seen a couple of contracts where the remuneration section seem to have written in a deliberatly confusion way. This should be avoided at any cost.

In this clause, all other payments (including allowances, benefits in kind, payments, overtime, bonuses, etc) should also be mentionned. In cases where there are complex allowance / bonus payment systems, the system should be clearly defined in this clause. Again, the idea is to remove every doubful and confusing elements.

Before signing a contract, one can check the different legislations available to verify whether the salary / benefits offered are in line with the laws. For instance, it is always advisable to check remuneration orders, where such orders are applicable.

Leaves
Leaves are governed under labour laws and remuneration orders. However, in many instances, contract of employment do repeat the conditions. It lines up with the general idea of removing confusion and space for misinterpretation. It’s quite funny to see how many employers make it a must to repeat this part in their contract, despite it being clearly written in the laws. If such effort was also made in other parts of the contract, many disputes would have been avoided.

Others
There are other clauses and conditions that can be mentionned in a contract of employment. Depending on the specificities of the job or the business of the employer (for exmplae), both parties may agree to sign additional conditions. These, in any case, should not depart from the Employment Rights Act or Remuneration Orders. They are included in a contract to address additional elements. After all, a contract is an agreement between two parties.

Other elements that may be covered under a contract of employment are, for example:

Use of company assets
Dealingwith intellectual property
Confidentiality clause
Competition conditions

The list is not exhaustive and may include many other elements that the employer may deem necessary to ‘protect’ his business. Again, no departure from the Law is allowed as, at the base, such condition would render the contract illegal and therefore not defendable in a Court of Law.

Our HR services
Gibson & Hills Group offers, through its su
bsidiary Talent Lab Ltd, a full range of HR services designed to enhance the HRM (Human Resources Management) in general. This includes

  • Design of the general HR policy & strategy
  • HR audit
  • HR engineering & re-engineering
  • HR finance & overheads management
  • Payroll administration
  • Tax and social charges administration
  • Legal documentation: contracts, promotions, dismissals, etc.
  • Disciplinary committees
  • Motivation and incentives
  • Training and team buildling

The above list is just an indication, we do provide a 100% one-stop-shop service to businesses and employers in general

As a licensed recruitment agency, we are also able to help organisation match their HR needs. Our recruitment services includes:

  • Definition of the post and its attributions
  • Formulation of research strategy
  • Screening of candidates and shortlisting
  • First interview & interview hosting
  • Contract drafting and signature.

I do hope that this first article in the series has given you sufficient first-hand information on what to expect in a contract of employment. We will be coming soon with other articles in the same line. Until then, if readers require any information, they are free to contact us.

(c) http://www.gibsonandhills.com

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Invest, work & retire in Mauritius

Happy New year to all readers.  Here we are, with our first 2017 article.

Lots have been going under the sun, in Mauritius. But the island is, fortunately, still maintaining its strategy to attract foreign investment and expertise.

We will try to have a quick look on the different residency permits schemes that are available in Mauritius and update you on new rules and regulations.  Yes, some slight changes have been brought to Occupation permit schemes without, however, affecting the core program. Before going into details, let us have a look at the different categories of permits available for who want to invest, work or retire in Mauritius.

Occupation Permit categories & their criteria

Investor Permit: an investor is a shareholder and director in a company registered and domiciled in Mauritius. The shareholder is required to show a minimum investment of USD100,000 & the company should be able to generate an annual turnover of at least MUR2 million for the 1st year & cumulative turnover of at least MUR10 million for subsequent two years.

Professional : a foreigner working in a Mauritian company to deliver professional services. He should earn a basic salary exceeding MUR60,000 per month. However the basic salary for professionals in the ICT sector should exceed MUR30,000 a month.

Self-Employed: a self-employed person is a foreign engaged in a professional activity; working exclusively for his own account. The applicant should be able to show a minimum investment of USD35,000 and his activity should generat an annual income of MUR600,000 in the first 2 years and thereafter MUR1.2 million .

Retired Non-Citizensa foreigner, aged over 50 years and able to transfer at least USD40,000 per year to cater for his own expenses or USD120,000 at the time of application. 

exclamNotice the slight changes in turnover criteria for Investors and Self-Employed. Globally the performance requirements are the same, though. Eg: the Investor was previously required to generate a turnover of MUR4 million a year, for three years. This equals to the global condition of MUR12 million for the first three years. Similar principle applies to Self-Employed category.

How to apply ?  The changes brought to procedures

There were certain incoherence in the previous application procedures and we did highlight them from the very start.  Previously, an investor would be required to incur certain costs even before having a minimum comfort on his permit outcome. For instance, he would have needed to create his company, open the bank account, transfer his investment and travel down to Mauritius to submit his application.  Even while so doing, he had no guarantee that his Occupation Permit would be approved. The same inconveniences would apply to other categories: Professional, Self-Employed  & Retired non-citizens.

A new option is now available. Applicants may choose to apply for an Approval in Principle. prior to travelling down to Mauritius and incurring any expenses. Once the approval is obtained, the applicant has 90 days to register his business in Mauritius, transfer the funds, undertake his medical tests  and submit his applicatioproeduren to the Board of Investment.

Now, the challenge lies in completing all these (including travelling) in 90 days. For instance, to open a bank account, every business requires a Trade License, issued by the local authority where the business is situated. This in itself can take weeks to achieve, despite government’s affirmed willingness to shorten the delay (this is an acknowledgement that the delay is long).

There are several other ‘logistics’ constraints that needs to be taken care of. If the investor has children, for example, he has to cater for school admission.  90 days, honestly, can vanish like a burnt matchstick. Still, the change in application procedure is a positive sign.

visaservicesTo be able to optimise on success possibilities, it is always available to hire the services of a professional.

There is obviously an additional cost to hiring a professional, but it provides an additional comfort (and a sort of guarantee) to have the intervention of someone who masters local laws and regulations.

A professional has built a network of trust (if he is good) with officers at various levels.

 

This facilitates many things, like ensuring efficient and quick communications or enhance collaboration for the success of the application.

A professional will also be able to guide you through the ‘DoS’ and ‘Donts’, eliminate possible obstacles & bugs on the application file.

We have been assisting those who want to invest, work and retire in Mauritius for the past decades. We have travelled through various laws and changes througout time. Our track record : +20 years of experience, +100s of projects realised and +1000s of smiles earned

Unlock the doors of Mauritius, paradise-island. 

(c) http://www.gibsonandhills.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mauritius employment laws & regulations, 2016-2017

Hello readers

We published an article on employment law back in 2012. The success, you made out of it, was unexpected. Over 58,000 views & over 550 questions/comments.

We realised how important the employments laws of Mauritius are important to our readers and we are glad we were able to provide you all with contents you accepted as useful. We cannot but thank you!

For all those we happened to help someway or another in getting out of distress, we again say thank you for trusting us.

 

We will be publishing an updated version early next year and hope to be as useful to you as we have been so far.

We wish you a Very Happy New year 2017 – health, wealth and happiness to all.

happy-new-year-sms-2015

 

 

 

 

 

Signing-off for 2016

Nadeem

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

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Why do you need a consultant to invest, work or live in Mauritius?

Any foreigner who wishes to work, live or stay in Mauritius requires assistance from an expert.  Taking my own example, I would never take the risk of moving my family to a foreign land without consulting with experts. True : to find a genuine and competent expert is another issue. In every sector, there are ugly ducklings that tarnish the image of the profession. The Board of Investment (BOI) mentions on its website, in bold and in red, ‘beware of people posing as Consultants’. This statement may be misleading and might discourage foreigners from contracting the services of consultants. It might simply be interpreted that consultants are just crooks, all of them.

BOI (and government bodies) needs to understand that consultants are not people from a different team and they are not competitors. Consultants, the genuine and competent ones, work in the interest of the island. We promote Mauritius as a business or life destination. As opposed to government bodies, we invest our own funds, not public money. It should also be clear to every government servant that one of the main objectives of attracting foreign investors is the creation of wealth; this wealth is not limited to beautifying data tables, percentages and statistics. The population should benefit – new businesses and job creation should grow in proportion to the flux of foreign investors (I don’t know why I don’t like the word Immigrant). Our local professionals should be able to tap-in this market, and this, also means work and fees for our accountants, consultants, lawyers, service providers, property owners, and so on.

For me, the definition of ‘boosting the economy’ is : to improve the quality of life of people. It corresponds to the Government’s affirmed ambition of turning the country into a high income earning econmy. No?

consulting-consultant

It is true that many posed as consultants in the past. They found themselves this new profession when the Business Facilitation Act was introduced. Easy form filling procedures in return for heavy fees paid in Euros & Dollars. These are not consultants, only opportunists – at worse, crooks.

It is time now that authorities identify and recognize the real professionals. I can understand the position of the BOI, but only to some extent. The biggest fraud, with regards to permits occurred in the womb of the BOI itself. Its own staff members, in the past, have been found guilty of fraudulent maneuvers (fake permits, fake bank documents, etc.). The big scandal required some cleansing operation, internal to the BOI. I’m glad to see that things are very healthy these days, and in every specific service: application procedures, counseling, expertise, attitude, you name it. The officers seem more competent and understand the process, but more importantly, they understand the fact that the risk lies in the hands of the investor.

Coming back to ‘people posing as consultants’, the statement is not very clear to me.  I pay regular visits to the BOI, minimum twice a week, every week. I happen to observe, quite frequently, ‘suspicious’ people still roaming around. Some seem to enjoy privileged access to the officers and the facilities. I wonder how people having a full time paid job (in sectors having nothing to do with the BOI) can still bring in ‘clients’ and assist in application procedures. Seasonal consultants?

The ‘posing as consultants’ phenomena does not affect only Mauritians. Many foreigners have found nothing better than to open their ‘consultancy office’ on the island. Not only many of them lack expertise but they are actually posing as unfair competitors to local experts. A real international consultant will not leave a much larger market (Europe, for instance) and start an accounting / book-keeping business in the tiny Mauritius. Foreigners posing as consultants lack the expertise that Mauritian born and bred consultants have: knowledge of island life, culture, common practices, knowledge of law and rules, the list can be long. Taking my own example, my over 23 years of experience comes into play in any relocation advice I give to people moving to Mauritius. I know the do’s and don’ts and this was not written in my books, not taught in school – this was learnt on the ground.

I’m curious to know why there are no restrictive schemes to protect local expertise here, similar to what is operated in the tourism industry, for example. We have thousands of graduates on the circuit every six months adding to thousands of Mauritians qualified in the consultancy related areas (accountants, finance managers, engineers, etc.). They need to fight an unfair competition from foreign pseudo-consultants. Unfair is the word.

These professions should be restricted to Mauritians, unless foreigners have hyper-innovative proposals that can enhance the industry. 

I’m planning to raise the question soon in a formal way to the BOI in view of understanding their position on the word ‘consultants’ in general and more particularly foreigners operating in this field. It would be an interesting subject.

So why do we really need a consultant?  Officers of the BOI have done tremendous effort to stay in touch with investors, trying to help them invest in the industry sector they choose. Despite this effort, these officers will never be able to replace genuine consultants, because of the expertise and on-the-ground experience the latter has. A government officer sits behind a desk and can be excellent, but only in procedures and paperwork, at best. Generally, taking the example of the BOI, government bodies play an important role in the ‘setting-up’ phase. They do not come into play in the real-life situation of the business.

consultant-knowledge

The consultant’s expertise goes far beyond the ‘setting-up’ phase; his advice is based on the promoter’s constraints, objectives (short, medium or long) and he has a wider perspective on business in general. The consultant is himself an entrepreneur if he is running his own firm. A government officer does not understand the basic principle of risk because his salary is assured and guaranteed. On the other hand, the consultant relies on his reputation & business acumen to succeed, financially or otherwise, in his venture. He invests his own funds and has a higher need of return on investment. Yes, we are referring to different mindsets and you can guess which one matches the investor’s.

Let’s have a look at a concrete example: human resources. No officer can understand the motivation factor of a job-seeker. Extend this further; the officer has no idea of the day-to-day constraints of a particular job and the average rate of pay in a particular sector. There are several things that the officer has no clue of, for instance: cultural clash between Mauritian employees & foreign employers, financial motivation, geographical spread of competencies and the list goes on and on.

bs-exMy company manages around 400 staff members, we work with them everyday, understand their problems, solve their issues – we interview them for recruitment purposes. We definitely have a better insight on the overall job market. We tackle every of the issues that arise: conflicts, behavior, performance, discipline, technical, legal, fiscal, etc. All this is done through observation of local laws and rules. A government servant sitting most of the time behind his desk will, in no way, gather such intelligence and experience. His advice on employment can only be twisted to either suit the investor’s wishes or discourage him – again he might excel in interpreting statistics and data. Reality cannot be translated when not known. A consultant will, on the other side, expose real-life experience, which is not usually described in percentages or figures.

Human resources is only one aspect of business, you can take any other aspect and apply the same principle of thought.

In a government office, to get precise advice in every aspect of business, you will need to address your worries to different officers. At the end of the day, you will find yourself talking to a crowd and will need to find your way through to the relevant expert for each specific issue you have. Still, the expert dealing with you has probably never done business and hasn’t taken any business risk in his life. The consultant may also display a team of experts but as opposed to a public institution, he is and remains accountable to you as client. He is normally your single point of contact.

accountability

Accountability is key. The consultant is accountable to you because he earns fees from you. He has a duty of care and attention which extends to moral & ethical responsibility. A government servant is not accountable to you. In case of wrong advice, he is still earning his salary at the end of the month and he is not answerable to you.  He has no concerns whatsoever for his reputation, it is not part of his equation. He should not be blamed for it; this is how the system works.

Without discrediting government servants, I need to mention that they are very much useful and essential at all levels. However, they should understand that consultants complement the overall process of attracting and helping foreign investors’ migration to Mauritius.  One cannot perform well without the other. In this regards, not only the BOI but all other public institutions have to understand that private operators are part of the same team.

Private and public sector cooperation is not only required for real estate development project, for instance, but should also take place in the service sector. Foreign investment is essential to the development of Mauritius into a modern island.

If a foreigner wants to work or live in Mauritius, he requires confirmed expertise and mostly an accountable person to take care of his affairs and that of his family.  Relocation does not start or ends with papers issued by government service; relocation is a real-life process which requires support from people who are on the ground; people like us, carrying decades of experience; people who were in the profession even before the Board of Investment was created. People who are accountable.

The idea of this article is not to confront civil servants in a challenge of competence or expertise. When an official government site displays, in bold and in red, information that can cause prejudice to private operators, there is a need to clear the misunderstanding. A consultant is also an investor, and in my opinion, there’s no use attracting foreign investors if locals are struggling to find a way. A consultant’s success also implies expansion of his business, job creation, wealth creation, tax payment and upgrade of expertise, among others.

The baseline is simple: both sides are working for the same goal; promote Mauritius as a world-class business and retirement destination.

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

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Business, investment opportunity in Mauritius

business-ideForeigners who want to invest in Mauritius often apprehend the difficulties lying ahead.  Business creation is not really a simple point to point process. It involves different steps; finding the right location, the right team, stock acquisition, equipment, logistics, the legal structure and of course the residency permits.

 

Above all the uncertainties lies a big one: will this work? will eat earn money to finance a new life, in an unknown land?

We have decades of experience in helping foreigners settling down in Mauritius, either for business, work or retirement reasons. We know and can feel the worries that surrounds a business relocation project.

We have an excellent opportunity for people who would want to settle-down to Mauritius but who would want to avoid all the above worries. A project with a very interesting earning potential and yet not human, capital or equipment intensive. The initial investment required and the revenue generation potential fit the conditions imposed by the Board of Investment. Here are some highlights:

  • Project is expected to reap high acclaim & potential award winner
  • Appeals to a niche market, with guaranteed customers
  • High income potential
  • Innovative, a premier on the island
  • Low maintenance enterprise
  • High growth potential. Both the offering and the market are expandable.

To show our confidence it the project’s success, we are offering to any investor, the following :

  • 3 month free office space with internet connectivity
  • All procedures relating to residency permits (whole family)
  • Transfer of up to 100% ownership including intellectual property
  • 100% support for the launch & initial development

If you want to know more, drop us an email or use our contact page.

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

 

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