Professional advice v/s Social media

Social media is the God of communication, so anchored in our lives that most of us use it as our sole source of information. Unquestionable trust: what’s written there is the absolute truth for many. Under the banner of freedom of expression, anything and everything can be said. The danger lies, however, in reading bogus professional advice from non-qualified people. This phenomenon has affected all areas of expertise irrespective; medical, political, financial, intellectual … you name it ! There’s also the facility with which people claim to be expert in a relevant field; many even selling Masterclasses (the new trend) or auto-proclaiming themselves Gurus in, for example, Public speaking, Sales, Marketing, Life / Business Coach. I could have written a whole blog just listing the pseudo-experts here but let me stick to my profession and tell you how social media affected it.

Some days ago, a client sent me a nicely drawn spreadsheet. On one side were the advice I gave to him and, in a comparative column, the information that he sourced by his own means. Of course, there were differences. After several emails explaining to him my suggestions, he finally revealed that he got his information on Facebook, through comments and posts by other people. The client seemed more appreciative of such content, despite it not being related to his case, his scenario and his objective.  What most bothered me what the ‘confrontation’ attitude that the person took against me and the way my ability was questioned. Thank God, after detailing each piece of advice, he finally put everything into context and realized that Facebook it not a professional office.

Business set-up, management and immigration services have been my specialty over the last 25 years. Unfortunately, these days people like me are the ones to be questioned and frowned at because some Tom, Dick and Harry on social media has written something different. It is getting ridiculous with all sorts of special groups appearing almost every day. Most of these are trying to make money, selling something or another; and when it comes to intangibles (service, advice, etc.) it is even easier as there cannot be a return if defective policy and no material proof of defect. Many of these operate without a license. In many cases, the idea of having a Facebook business is to reduce cost and hassle of licensing, reporting and accountability.

The dangers in relying on this type of information to set-up your business or move your family to another country are real. It is not simply about the money you may lose, but the stress you put your loved ones into. A professional office has, besides expertise, the experience of long years of service treating different scenarios (business and family) – and can create a global solution from different set-pieces. It has a duty to report and deliver, without any curtains as those behind Facebook groups enjoy. A defaulting group may just close and vanish, not an office which has a reputation, staff members and a business to sustain.

While many provide honest feedback on their experience, these do not constitute professional advice in essence. Same applies to opinions. These relate mostly to one specific circumstance applicable to one particular subject (person or business). Copying and pasting such content to a different situation is a risky business. This is the reason why professionals offer consultancy services. There is a need to assess every single case and provide advice / service based on observations and findings gathered during consultation. If there was one global solution, consultation would not have existed.

Information should be treated in context, and this includes evaluating the sources, considering the basis of it and finally, double-checking the veracity.

It might be useful to note that at Gibson & Hills, advice and consultation have always been free of charge. We are available on almost every communication platform (and social media). Feel free to run any piece of information by us.

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

Posted in Business, Business Facilitation Act, culture, Economics, Finance, Immigration, Investment, Law, Mauritius, Occupation Permit, Residence Permit, Residency, Retired Permit, Tax, Tourism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Budget speech 2022

The Minister of Finance is expected to deliver his annual budget speech this afternoon of 7 June 2022. This exercise is a national hobby and will slow down the island life for anything about 2 or 3 hours. I remember my dad silencing almost the whole village and sitting down with his notebook. This is a life changing thing, broadcasted on national TV and all radio stations. The seriousness is enhanced by the usual bunch of experts on each media set; translating, analyzing and commenting (in a deep toned voice) every word uttered by the Minister. For some years now, we even have a fashion police that decrypts the dress of people entering the Parliament House for this utterly sacred ceremony.

Many Mauritians are experts in prediction and pre-event analysis. Take any subject you want : finance, politics, sports… anything. Many can even deliver the speech before the Minister does ! This is the colorful tradition of the island, we love talking and mostly predict things so we can say we were first to say it. Nothing bad in it if not taken seriously. It is so enjoyable to meet those who made right predictions and smile at those who, desperately, try to explain why their predictions went wrong. In any case, you have it right, the island will have its cardiac rhythm slowed down for some hours today. Shall I say a total eclipse of the heart !

In the current context, we are all curious to see what the Honorable Dr Padayatchy will announce. We are navigating trouble waters and there are two ways to consider things : we keep rowing for now without drastically changing anything or we take the plunge into a make or break situation. I would rather go for the first option. Sorry, I’m sliding into the prediction game.

What expatriates or non-Mauritians have to look out for : possible changes in expatriation / immigration rules, changes to personal and business tax rules, business related regulations and similar amendments.

We will, of course, provide our readers with the major highlights and list all measures that are likely to affect our life, personal or business.

In meantime, do yourselves a favor : buy some snacks and drinks. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show.

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

Posted in Business, culture, Economics, Finance, Investment, Law, Mauritius, Occupation Permit, Residence Permit, Residency, Retired Permit, Tax | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is a #Visa ?

A #visa, for #Mauritius, refers to the short-term stay permission granted to any non-Mauritian entering the island. Long-stay permissions are typically referred to as #permits and can be in the form of #occupation permit or #residence permit, granted for different purposes, such as #investment, #employment, #retirement or #spouses of #Mauritian citizens.

There are different types of visas, but the most common ones are :

  • #Tourist / #visitor visa : allows for a maximum stay of 180 days in a year
  • #Business : allows for a maximum stay of 120 days in a year

The visa is in the form of a #stamp that the #Passport and #Immigration Officer puts on your passport to evidence your arrival and entry on the Mauritian soil. This stamp will also specify the type of visa and the initial stay duration. These two information will be handwritten by the officer.

No entrants gets a maximum duration visa on landing. This, however, can easily be extended at the Passport office in Port Louis.

While most nationalities get a visa on arrival, there are a few that require a visa application prior to leaving the country of departure. This is done remotely by addressing the application to the Passport Office.

Visa extensions are quite straight-forward, but require the following :

  • It should be done prior to the expiry, Preferably two or three days before
  • Applicant should show sufficient financial means to stay further (bank statement or other document to support)
  • Accommodation letter and hotel booking to be presented
  • A return ticket, based on the extended date has to be presented
  • In case of accommodation letter (non-hotel residence), the person providing the accommodation should present a copy of his National Identity Card and proof of residence

If you want to know more about visas for Mauritius, please do not hesitate to contact us on info@gibsonandhills.com

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

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A cyclone in Mauritius

Let me get back to my old ways, talking about my colorful island. I would classify Mauritius as a small village of the world where gossips and rumors rank among the best practiced sports. It has been a long time since I wrote about the cultural backstage of the island, an important facet that any visitor or immigrant must understand – or learn it the hard way. This tiny village has stories; sweet, spicy or salty, which makes it an interesting place to live in; even more interesting when all is condensed in such a small place. You don’t need the media to relay much, word of mouth is enough.

This week was loaded in terms of distractions. We got our first cyclone of 2022, named Batsirai. We felt its presence, unlike so many previous ones who were mere wind blowers. Batsirai reached Class 4, the strongest alert possible on the island. For your information, schools are closed from Class 2 and insurance does not cover vehicles travelling after 3 hours from the issue of Class 3. Cyclones are a kind of family get-together. Before Covid lockdowns, cyclones were the only events where one could find a full family confined to the walls of their homes. Every cyclone brings some nostalgia where the elderlies would recall what they did. There is, you’ve guessed it right, a sort of tradition at home during a cyclone.

Eating is what comes to mind when you’re sitting idle the whole day, watching the rain and listening to wind whistling and hissing. The classic food is the inevitable pharata (farata or some call it roti) with chicken masala curry. Pharata is just like your tacos / quesadilla but much thinner. You can have it with a curry (or several curries) or with a butter spread. Pharata became the tradition as it is easily made and replaces the traditional bread. It is a consistent meal, mind you – and a treat for tastebuds.

Board games are also a favorite among families. Monopoly and Scrabble are probably the most popular ones. They have travelled generations and do not alienate any member of the family. Of course, things have changed over the years, regrettably. The likely scenario these days would have each member of family hooked to a screen and engaged with his own self or with someone not in the house. Anyways, evolution of mankind. In the days where a family would not afford board games (yes, there were days and there still are families in this situation), the best leisure would be watching special TV programs. I remember when I was a kid there was only one TV channel and it had to accommodate all cultures of the island. So, one would enjoy shows of different languages in one stretch of the day. Kids were pampered by the national TV: circus shows, cartoons, and kids movies were all over the place. Those were the days.

The cultural diversity is also very resonant in the cyclone news and announcements. These are broadcasted in four languages: English, French, Creole and Bhojpuri (a dialect that mixes creole and Indian languages). Cyclone bulletins, giving the latest movement updates, and change in cyclonic alert levels have a distinct jingle and, again, everyone can mimic this sound. With technology, we do not need to keep the radio on all the time. In the early days (or my younger days) we would keep the radio on as we never knew when the next announcement will be made.

The greatest fear for any youngster, during a cyclone, is not the damage it can cause… the greatest fear is electricity cut. No internet, no TV… life becomes miserable. Electricity cuts are rather frequent given that all our systems are based on poles, of which many are in wood. Trees outgrowing electric poles and wires result in line breaks.  Charged wires hanging loose or lying on the ground is not a rare scene. Fortunately, with more recent infrastructure, such hazards are being reduced. I remember the black-out on the island during the passage of cyclone Hollanda. We had no electricity for almost two weeks and families had to go to the nearest river for the laundry. During those times, a curious phenomenon hit us all : the famous ghost named ‘touni-minuit’ (translate Naked Midnight). In the dark nights, there were stories of a strange creature, visiting houses (and women). Hysteria and paranoia everywhere. I know one old person who died of a heart attack thinking he saw the touni-minuit on his roof. Strange enough, the ghost was sophisticated and polite; he’d give a phone call and warn people of his visit. That was in February 1994. Hollanda is often considered as a ‘reference’ in class 4 cyclones, in modern cyclone stories. It came with gusts of 216 KmH.

 Not every cyclone brings damages to the island, thank God. Most of them, even when reaching class 4, bring wind and rain. Mauritian houses and buildings are mostly concrete built, therefore very resistant. The damages, and in modern era, cannot be compared to those caused by Hurricanes and Typhoons. All to confirm that the island is blessed by the Gods. Our grandparents often narrate the devastation that happened in the 60s and 70s through infamous cyclones named Alix, Carol, Gervaise and Claudette, raging with gusts reaching (or exceeding) 200KmH. Modern cyclones hardly reach around 130KmH (class 4 classification comes with anticipated gusts of 120KmH).  Gervaise was the most dangerous one, recording gusts of 280KmH as it passed over Mauritius, while the common trajectory is about 80-150Km from the shores of the island. This was in 1975.

The strongest we had in the recent past was Gamede (2007) which had gusts of 158KmH and it passed 230 km away from the north west coast.

These days cyclones are mostly associated with a day-off school. From class 2, schools are closed but other professional activities remain opened until class 3 is announced. Strangely, there’s more a sense of holiday than fear on the island – probably it is better this way. In Batsirai Class 4, there were videos of irresponsible people (whole families) having a swim in the lagoon. It all translates the nonchalance of a population not appraised of the dangers of natural calamities. I remember when the great tsunami hit Indonesia and news were circulating about its imminent reaching of our shores, many found it not inappropriate to stand by the beaches to watch the waves. I would also translate this into a confirmation, up to now, that the island is blessed by the Gods. There hasn’t been any major catastrophic event recently (except probably the flash floods in Port Louis causing 11 deaths) and thus the population does not have any sense of danger. Maybe this, in itself, is the danger.

You know better what a cyclone means to Mauritius now !

Feel free to send your questions or comments. You may also contact us on info@gibsonandhills.com

www.gibsonandhills.com

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Good Bye 2021, Welcome 2022

We all have been eagerly waiting the end of 2020 and then 2021, hoping that they would take Covid19 away with them.. Over the years, we all started to realize that probably nothing will be like it was before and that the virus would probably stay some more, if not, forever by our sides. Little did we imagine, let alone prepare ourselves, for such an occurrence. As humans, we mostly thought that we were invincible, that we had technology and science which could solve any equation that would come disturbing our ways. Alas!

Irrespective of our reading, Covid19 has changed everything, causing irreversible damage to many families, businesses and social life. All along, many have developed greater minds; some are now experts in vaccination, others in conspiracy theorists, and many are now neo-anarchists. At the end, many have simply woken up from a passive life.

What we all need above good wishes is a sense of responsibility as humans. It is time to give some consideration (the least you can) to aspects of human life beyond business, money and material. Our environment and mostly our humanity comes to first thoughts.

Let us all give hope to ourselves. Let us do those little things which cost nothing yet add a stone in the construction of a better world. Let us be humans, simply!

Gibson & Hills Group wishes you all the best for 2022. Keep yourselves and your loved ones safe

In memory of those we have lost in the battle (mostly the volunteers and front-liners), we refrain ourselves from posting any festive photos.

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

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The Employee of Record (EOR)

Often, multinationals or international businesses need to position their employees in a foreign country prior to them setting-up a full-fledged operation. We are referring, for example, to the early contingents having a mission to study the market, infrastructure and understand the terrain before making an actual decision to invest or set-up business.

More often than one believes, such missions may take anything between a month to more than a year. Registering a legal entity for this purpose, without any certainty as to its sustainability, is not the best thing to do. The first and foremost role of the entity would be to employ its staff but still the entity is bound by all the legal, administrative and practical requirements of prevailing laws and business practicality ; even if it is not an operating / trading entity.

We should also consider the legal and administrative incidence on closing or de-registering the business, if ever the preliminary operations reveal a non-interest in pursuing business further.  Whilst the process cannot be qualified as complex, it involves, for instance: registering and de-registering with institutions such as tax, social funds, licensing, banks and insurance – to name a few.

How does it work

Employee of Record (EOR) is one of the formulae used for the above purpose. EOR is an entity which is duly registered on the island and serves to host staff of foreign entities which do not have any other purpose (business) except having their manpower physically present. The EOR, being already registered, has its credentials and does not plan to stop its activities once the contracted staff finish their mission.

The EOR is, vis-à-vis local authorities, the designated employer of the staff. It is therefore called to respect all laws pertaining to employment, tax, social contributions and immigration (in case of expatriate staff members). Of course, the ultimate employer (the foreign party) is known and bound under an agreement which protects and indemnifies the EOR for any departure from laws, if not a result of EOR mismanagement. Such agreement would cover timely payment of salaries and employer charges, which are on the side of the ultimate employer.

Being the recognized employer in Mauritius, the EOR will also provide work permit applications and management for the employees, if they are non-Mauritians.

What an EOR does?

In some cases, the EOR will also provide business / desk space to the employees. This would include equipped workstations, offices or other solutions as may be required by the ultimate employer. At Gibson & Hills group, we provide a full coverage which includes:

  • Payroll management and salary payouts
  • Tax and social contributions management
  • Bank accounts for employees
  • Application for expatriate permits (Occupation or work permits)
  • Residency permit application for dependent (spouse, children and parents)
  • Visa application and other formalities
  • Document translation, authentications and certifications
  • Workstation, equipped or not
  • Car rental
  • Accommodation rental
  • Medical insurance covers
  • Employee welfare schemes
  • Assistance to child schooling, during period of employment
  • Connection to utilities (phone lines, internet, satellite TV and other subscriptions)
  • Full integration with our own teams for blending and to avoid homesickness
  • Cultural briefings and tours
  • More, on demand

The collaboration works around a set fee for service, which varies according to the service coverage required.

EOR v/s own business set-up

If you are of foreign nationality and would wish to set-up business in Mauritius, you are bound by certain specific regulations, more so in terms of business / residence permit rules. This involves, at first, a minimum investment amount and turnover criteria, respectively USD50,000 for an investor permit and Rs4 million (annual turnover). In many cases, whilst the promoter is fully confident on his business (and business model), probably having achieved success in other countries, there is still a large element of uncertainty replicating the same experience in Mauritius.

Such uncertainty does not warrant heavy investment, despite business at the base is just an equation between risk and reward. This situation can be avoided through use of an EOR vehicle. In fact, before engaging into an investment, the promoter may seek temporary legal accommodation through an EOR to host his residency permit while he/she can undertake all preliminary studies (financial, technical, market studies, etc.) in a complete peace of mind and mostly not being dependent on a short-stay visa. Business visas are for a maximum of 120 days in a year, while tourist visas provide for a maximum of 180 days.

The EOR will provide similar permit as for any qualified and eligible employee. Its duration can be anything from 10 months to 10 years.  This does not exempt any party from any dispositions of applicable laws, however. Therefore, tax and social charges are still to be remitted to authorities. The main advantage, through an EOR, is cashflow management and, again, the ability to free oneself from blind investment and navigating through uncertainty elements.

Our EOR services

We have been providing EOR services for some years now, catering for employees of different horizons; local or foreign. Our vat experience in this field has widened our perspectives, allowing us to understand, anticipate and plan deployments in the most effective way. We have collaborated with multinationals in different industry sectors, from technology, aeronautics, agriculture, healthcare, science, tourism, service and many more.

Besides, our one-stop solution center for business as well as people allow us to provide a holistic approach to any scenario. We can discern all aspects around setting-up business or relocation to Mauritius. We actively contribute towards solving complex equations, having more than two decades of industry exposure and on-the-ground experience.

If you are considering or feel that an EOR solution appeals to your future project, feel free to contact us at info@gibsonandhills

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

Posted in Business, Business Facilitation Act, culture, Economics, Employment, Finance, Immigration, Investment, Law, Occupation Permit, Residence Permit, Residency, Tax | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where to live in Mauritius

A very legitimate and appropriate question for anybody who wants to relocate to Mauritius. Despite being a very tiny place, the island offers an interesting variety of living experiences. There is not a typical feature that allows you to generalize the island’s lifestyle, and that is what makes the place an ideal home.

You can have the lifestyle you choose, isn’t that beautiful?

Beachside

Well, the first thing we all now about Mauritius is the beach. Naturally anyone who wants to set foot on the island would want to be near the beach. As obvious as it can be, the nearer you go to the beach, the more expensive it gets. In any case, a beach is less than 45 minutes of drive from wherever you are on the island. It’s true that waking up to the sound of waves and opening your eyes to the sight of the horizon or having your feet on the sand are next to paradise. It is also true that if these become an everyday life thing, they would lose their value in your eyes.

Beach properties are numerous. Historically, the beachfronts are either occupied by some privileged families (or may I call dynasties), hotels and tourist enterprises. Over time, many of those private bungalows have been traded to either hotels or property developers. So, it is quite common to have villas, luxury apartments or other accommodation on the beachfront. These properties are very rarely owned on a freehold basis; such land is generally classified as Pas-Geométrique, and belongs to Government and are available to developers / owners on Leasehold basis (20 – 60 years, renewable).

Do not even hope to get a piece of such land to build your house, or even buy one, unless such unit is classified under the Property Development Scheme (PDS). 

The most attractive beachside residential zones:

  • North : Grand Baie, Trou aux Biches, Mont Choisy, Grand Gaube
  • West : Tamarin, Black River, Le Morne, Albion
  • East : Trou d’Eau Douce, Belle Mare, Poste LaFayette
  • South : Blue Bay, Mahebourg

Night life

Not much is happening on the night life scene due to the prevailing Covid situation. Well, there are private parties, and some ‘closed’ events here and there, but nothing on the public scene. Nightclubs are not allowed operation for now. The usual places for nightlife and party animals are found in the north, with the west offering some alternatives. Grand Baie is reputed for its numerous pubs, nightclubs and restaurants. It is probably one of the rare places which stays awake till morning.

The central region (urban side) may well have some nightlife, but this is more confined to restaurants. Shops and other facilities close around 20h, and everyone is in front of his television set. People in that region usually travel down the north or the west for some extra chill.

Port Louis? Forget it, there’s almost no life after office hours, except, unfortunately, for some night rats and fishy businesses. After hours, it is not recommended for anybody to stroll in those dark desert streets.

Business

Again Covid has changed many habits. Gone are the days when having an office in a well-appointed business location plays in favor of your enterprise; the office-home concept is well in place and acceptaed. It does not really matter where you are, if your products and services are good enough, people will travel up to you. Remember it is a tiny island and travel is not really a tedious task, more so in off-peak hours. If you are in a very commercial environment (and need a front facing window display), and you need to live in the proximity, then you might consider the following regions:

  • Centre of the island: Moka, Reduit, Ebene (Cybercity), Quatre Bornes, Rose Hill / Beau Bassin
  • North : Petit Raffray, Vale, Grand Baie, Grand Gaube, Roche Noires, Piton
  • East : Trou d’Eau Douce, Belle Mare, Poste La Fayette
  • West: Black River, Tamarin, Flic en Flac, Medine, Quatre Bornes.
  • South: Mahebourg, Blue Bay, Beau Vallon

Personally, I do not believe that there’s a need to stay within the radius of your business. In any case, getting back and forth is not a matter of hours, but minutes. One just need to take into account peak and off-peak hours.

The island is tiny but offers quite an impressive variety of experiences, whether it’s the climate, population density, shopping experience, living experience – you can experience different things in one single day. While it’s raining on the central plateau, you can drive 15 minutes to Port Louis or to the West to a scorching sunny temperature. This is just an example.

We like to keep our blogs to the essential. Else, to describe the best places of Mauritius, we would probably need a series of articles. We are available to elaborate on the subject or answer any of your questions.

Feel free to contact us on info@gibsonandhills

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

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FOREIGN V/S LOCAL EMPLOYEES – AVOIDING THE XENOPHOBIC TRAP

I’m wearing four hats to write this article: Mauritian citizen, entrepreneur, immigration specialist and director of an HR management agency. Of course, I’m looking at the subject from these four angles which accumulate over more than two decades of professional and personal engagement. Our articles are usually written under the banner of the Gibson & Hills Group, but this one is under my personal pen. I’m certain this will trigger different reactions, but as long as it does not leave you indifferent, I’m happy.

Local Labor Market – An Overview

From an agriculture-based economy, Mauritius shifted (rather rapidly) to a multi-fold economy through the development of industries such as textiles, tourism, financial services and IT. Education followed pace, with many of us travelling abroad for high studies and specialization in various sectors. The country opened its doors to foreign investment and capital in 2001 through the introduction of the Business Facilitation Act, the creation of the Economic Development Board (then named Board of Investment) and also, the development of a sound legal/fiscal framework. All this to ensure that the tiny island positions itself as a major business destination.

The local labor market always followed suit, until very recently. There was a notable downfall which many interpreted as a disparity between the job offer and available expertise. Plausible reasons:  training/education shortages, unwillingness or disengagement of employees, lack of ethics, inappropriate conditions of work, low salary and demand for employee loyalty, among others.. It is true that employees (backed by trade unions) have, over the last decade, been more focused on their rights rather than their responsibilities. Generally, we have done nothing than to rest on the master-slave perception, well present in our DNA, to break up enterprises. Instead of building one team under a single banner, employers and employees retrenched themselves into two separate groups. I take care in mentioning that this does not mean I warrant the abuses that employees have been subject to. But neither do I vouch for the numerous frauds and business-jeopardizing actions that many employees have led.

I fear employment was not deemed important for youngsters because most of them enjoy the ‘sponsorship of parents’ until they are settled. They do not have rents to pay, nor do they cater for their own food – as long as parents can pay, they will.

Where do we stand today? Local labor is not a favorite among local employers because of its lack of quality. You cannot correct a professional negligence or mistake without being accused of rudeness. Most common result  : seeing a resignation letter tabled in the next minute or – more often than you would think, seeing the employee packing up to leave without any word. Of course, all this is followed by the classic complaint lodged to the Ministry of Labor which, in turn, takes the employer as the de-facto defaulter. For every action, it is the employer who needs to justify himself, not the employee. I have chaired many disciplinary committees, and this has unfortunately been my experience so far.

Foreign Manpower

We gradually saw new faces on the labor market: Nepalese at restaurant fronts, Bangladeshis in textile factories, Chinese on construction sites, Europeans in management positions, or South Africans on the retail/commerce side. This is the visible scenario on the ground.

With the different permit schemes available, it became quite easy to have access to foreign expertise and at times, it is even easier than acquiring reliable local manpower. Whether Work Permits or Occupation Permits, employers simply need ‘to show’ that they are respecting the set conditions ‘on paper’ to secure them. From there, you can see foreigners in all categories of business or employment positions: hairdressers, accountants, lawyers, consultants, restaurants… everywhere. It has gone so far that foreign communities present on the island request to work only with their homies, creating a parallel economy while relocation is based on integrating the host country’s life. You want a French or South African hairdresser? A cake maker? A babysitter? Or even a maid? You have it.

It is only now that many are frowning at the situation, when everything is so utterly visible. We are not the United Arab Emirates where all Emiratis own their businesses and the only ones you find behind a counter are expatriates. This is Mauritius.

Ah, and to those princes and princesses: no, your parents are not eternal sponsors.

Enter Covid19

Sadly, now with the Covid situation many businesses are closing or narrowing their activities and resultingly, many are losing their jobs. Covid has somehow brought us back to the essence of things and helps us better appreciate their value. This includes work. Parents who were traditionally so supportive are finding themselves in tight corners as they themselves are exposed to redundancy. Families are in financial difficulties. The eternally sponsored generation now faces a different reality.  

With a smaller plate to share among locals and foreigners, the equation starts to look tricky. At this stage, I cannot say that there is a xenophobic trend, but I cannot ignore the words I’ve recently heard though my recruitment agency and through my clients. If this situation persists, these words will surely amplify and can take unpleasant dimensions.

What Has to Be Done

The government needs to work out a better strategy with regards to the employment of foreigners. The requirements should not be limited to only salary and work conditions. They should be part of a complete strategy that is able to support our fight against unemployment.

Certain professions whereby local expertise is not scarce should be protected. Examples of such professions include accountants, lawyers, administration, book-keeping, hawkers (yes), retail and commercial jobs (salesmen, after-sales, etc.). There are many areas like these, where locals should be protected. At the end of the day, we are opening our country (I said it before, many times) for the ultimate benefits of our own people; we are neither a refugee center not are we all rich pasha earning from Petro-Dollars.

If the trend continues, I warn again, it will lead to something that we will not be able to control.

I know I may be confronting my own clients (foreigners relocating) through the above statement. But there’s a need to voice out honest opinions now, rather than risking to reach a no-return point in the future.

Foreign capital and expertise are welcome to ADD to the existing capacity, not to REPLACE locals.

With the recent troubles in South Africa, I have been flooded by hundreds of employment requests. People have to understand that our immigration strategy is selective (although this is not really the case in practice) and need to stick to the principle of adding value instead of replacing local capacity.

Therefore, if you are looking for employment opportunities, make sure that you are able to adhere to the above. If you are not, then please reconsider your expectations.  You can contact us to know whether your expertise is in demand on the island, and we will give you a honest answer based on our experience on the ground; unlike many who are simply interested in selling you a residence permit.

You might find yourselves trapped in a complex situation in some years. This may include a sudden change of permit rules to politically accommodate the frustration of local unemployed people.

Nadeem Mosafeer

Gibson & Hills

www.gibsonandhills.com

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Relocation to Mauritius : how’s life on the sunny side?

So you heard about Mauritius, the tiny little heaven-like island in the Indian Ocean. You knew already that it is one of the best tourist destinations of the world but curious to learn that it has one of the best performing economies of Africa and it has an interesting immigration policy for those who want to invest, do business, work or even retire there. But how’s life on the island? The answer to this question s essential (quintessential as would say one of our Ministers) as you choose a new life, for you and your family.

Your lifestyle may need adjustment if you are coming from a busy Europeanized or Americanized region. South Africa is part of the equation. Mauritius imports most of its commodities, point to be noted. The Mauritian Rupee is not a strong currency, the exchange rate to the USD (Rs41+-), Euro (Rs44+-) or even the Rand (Rs2.90+-) makes it look pale. You would be amazingly comfortable if you earn decent foreign currency to spend in Rupees. But earning in Rupees (through local employment, for example) to spend in Rupees requires adaptation.

Accommodation has variable prices but the simplest equation to have in mind is that nearer you are to the beach, higher will be the rental cost. Rental prices are not fixed by any means. You can get a decent urban home for around Rs30,000 (+) a month while reaching the Rs200,000 (+) per month in a luxury coastal villa. Adding a swimming pool, fenced yard or other amenities, of course, comes with additional price elements.

Non-citizens are limited by law on property acquisition. They basically have three options:

  • Luxury PDS (Property Development Scheme) Villa worth USD375,000 – with residency
  • Luxury PDS villa worth less than USD375,000 – without residency
  • Apartment worth more than Rs6 million in a Ground+2 building.

Heavy tax on vehicles (specially motorcycles) make you think twice. Many Mauritians prefer to purchase the next-to-new option, commonly called reconditioned vehicles. These are imported second-hand vehicles, refurbished and they beautifully sustain the pride of their owners for many years.  Interesting motorcycles are taxed at almost 100%, so if you are a biker, chances are that you will be chocked with the price tags.

Education and health system is normally free. However, if you are looking for quality (let’s say at least decency of service) then you will probably opt for private / paid services. Here the prices are quite high.

An expatriate child school enrolment (tuition fees, yearly fees, book fees, etc.) costs slightly more than double as compared to a local child. A quick comparison for Le Bocage International School (Secondary Education) : Mauritians pays Rs18,600 per month, while same class is at Rs34,900 for a non-Mauritian child. The capital levy (one-off fee) is Rs35,000 for a Mauritian and Rs45,000 for a non-Mauritian. Fees (lebocage.net). The quality of education cannot be disputed though. Le Bocage for instance follows the IGCSE and International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.  You can choose a public / Government school, which is free, but would you want your child to always answer a question by question (?). Tertiary education is well catered for, with numerous universities represented on the island. Medine (West coast region near Black River) is actually developing a new city which revolves around education. There you have primary / secondary schools of repute and a proper Middlesex University with its on-campus living. Accommodation on campus is around Rs10,000 a month for a common room with shared kitchen.

Education is a reflection of the health system. Apply the same theory to schools and you have the whole picture. Private health facilities are not expensive directly, as compared to the rates for decent service in other country. The different is between public / Government run hospitals and private hospitals. Not many Mauritians can afford the price of private hospitals. An eye cataract surgery (lens implant) costs around Rs100,000, appendix removal around same, a stent placement turns around Rs275,000. Sorry, this is not a happy paragraph.

Restaurant dining is fairly affordable, yet varies in terms of their ranking (which is not defined). Fine dining at usually in chateau-type (powered by history) places and hotels. There are some exceptions where reputed local and international chefs operate. They are branded and come with their own legacy. Food in itself is quite varied, as varied as the Mauritian culture in itself. We are a blend of people from different continents; India, China, Africa and Europe. So if you fancy a Dholl purri (Indian – Mauritian adapted street food), a Kebab, a pizza or some lobsters – you’ve got the options. Most of the times it depends on your purse, well, that you already know. If you want to cook yourself, you can find them at any decent grocery store or if you are on the high-end, you have some deli shops available at special places on the island.

The island allows for easy living, if you can control your budget. You can also spoil yourself and drown into luxury if this is your lifestyle. However, the teething problem remains adaptation. You really need to explore, see, listen and understand for yourself. The choices are there, which one suits you depends on you. Without proper understanding of this mixed Indian African culture and behavior, you may find yourself in total confusion.  You might find that you get fresh and better fish by waiting at the fish landing station, as compared to shopping in a flashy mall.  Your small grocery shop next door may be more interesting in terms of price – quality ratio than the mall where you need to fight for a parking space to get in. Well, each country has its own specifics – Mauritius no, here it is a mix of all the good and the bad of other cultures. So you need to pick and choose what suits you.

We always recommend families to come and spend some time on the island, on a short or medium stay term and see for themselves whether Mauritius delivers what they are looking for. Magazines and internet might not give you the full picture, but we are here for this !

If you require any precise information on island living, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on info@gibsonandhills.com

http://www.gibsonandhills.com

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