We provide our summary of the Mauritius budget 2022/23 below. Bear in mind that some of the measures in the budget will not necessarily come into force. That is because they will be debated in Parliament, and some will be amended/ delayed/ omitted before being promulgated into law. The Mauritius Budget 2022/23 is always expertly analysed by the big 4 so take a look at PWC in particular, to assess it from a purely financial perspective. We have met with the EDB and asked a few questions, especially about the real estate provisions.
Unlike previous years, there are very few measures that directly affect expats relocating to Mauritius. The exception is if you happen to be in a business that is affected or the property measures below. The last two Mauritian Budgets were relatively focused on permits, visas, and other incentives for those relocating to Mauritius. There are however a few measures below that are centred around foreigners moving to Mauritius, one of which is potentially very significant relating to real estate in Mauritius.
1 – Foreigners to be allowed to buy houses in Mauritius outside the current schemes
“Residence Permits holders to be eligible to acquire a residential property of a minimum of USD 350 000 outside existing schemes, subject to a 10 % contribution made to the Solidarity Fund”
The first provision we discuss is perhaps the most controversial although maybe not wholly unexpected as we lay out below. We have discussed this measure in person with senior management in the EDB. Looking at the history of foreigners buying real estate in Mauritius, there has been a slow erosion of restrictions. This is because foreigners investing in real estate in Mauritius has been an important part of the investor-friendly strategy to make Mauritius more appealing to the international expat community.
How we understand the new Property Investment Scheme Would Work
- Who can utilise this scheme?
This measure only applies for those with a residence permit. This therefore includes those in Mauritius with an occupation permit. It includes those that are in Mauritius as a retired non-citizen. It would also naturally include anyone with a Permanent Residence Permit. This includes those that had received permanent residence from investment in real estate. Those in Mauritius on a Premium visa or tourist Visa would not be able to enjoy this scheme.
- Which Body will supervise and approve?
This would likely be a scheme that would go to the Economic Development Board and/or the Prime Minister’s Office for permission. These are the Government departments generally responsible for giving permission to foreigners buying real estate in Mauritius.
- How will it work?
Much like all the schemes to buy any real estate in Mauritius as a foreigner, you will need to seek permission from the authorities. This is always before the sales deed is signed. Normally a Reservation (CRP) document would be signed before this. You would need to provide the requested documents. It normally takes around 4 weeks with other schemes but can take much longer.
The History of Mauritian Real Estate Schemes for Foreigners
Initially there was the Integrated Resort Scheme starting over 20 years ago. Next came the Real Estate Scheme which enabled foreigners to buy properties at lower prices. Moving forward, investors could buy an apartment from as little as MUR 6 million. The Property Development Scheme replaced the IRS and RES with simplicity and defined guidelines. The limit of USD 500,000 for permanent residence was lowered to USD 375,000.
The Ground + 2 Scheme then allowed multiple purchases for investors that could be rented out. Not long after the permanent residence benefit was given for apartments for USD 375,000. Alongside this you had land for sale in Mauritius, specifically in a Smart City once someone already had a permit. With the background above, the permission to buy a house in Mauritius as a foreigner outside the current schemes is not such a giant leap.
What will be the Effect for Local Mauritians and house-prices?
Most Mauritians live in properties worth considerably less than USD 350,000. It is unlikely that a local who wanted to buy a house in Mauritius worth less than MUR 10 million is going to be affected by a number of foreigners investing over USD 350k. The rules on Ground + 2 apartments allowing access to foreigners over the last few years do not appear to have had a strong effect on the house prices in Mauritius. Even allowing permanent residence for apartments over USD 375,000 still did not seem to affect the local property market. Our view is that there will not be a significant effect on the house prices in Mauritius. An exception may be for those opportunistic house owners who will put their house for sale in Mauritius at increased rates to foreigners to hit the USD 350,000 minimum.
What will be the effect on the existing Property Schemes for foreigners buying real estate in Mauritius?
This is perhaps where the greatest disruption will come. Our views are very much preliminary. They are based on the limited information we have so far that we have read in the Mauritius budget and from our conversation with senior personnel at the EDB.
i) The large residential estates in Mauritius
For those buying in large residential estates where they have golf courses, spas, huge areas of communal land, and lots of shared facilities, it is our view that the property value in Mauritius will not be greatly affected. The reason is that many foreigners want to avoid the stress of filling their own oil in their backup generator, calling lorries for extra water during CWA works. They want the security of a large complex with facilities, maintenance, guards, and other neighbours. Additionally, they want to live without stress if a cyclone hits. They are happy paying a premium to live in a larger complex.
ii) The small residential estates in Mauritius
Some of the same justifications above apply for the small residential estates in Mauritius. Although, people enjoy shared facilities such as guard, power and water these smaller developments we believe will be more prone to be affected. Certainly, we have had many clients who are after older properties with more character and more land. These are not possible through the current schemes. Investors aiming for permanent residence at the lower end usually get an apartment. Currently, USD 375,000 does not give you many options for a villa. This we believe will now change.
One big concern is the quality of the properties if there are less controls, and the potential latent defects, especially if the property is over 10 years old. Our view is again however, the number of properties that even the small residential estates will lose out on will be relatively negligible as set out in the Mauritius budget.
2 – Fractional Ownership of real estate in Mauritius
“A residential property acquired by more than one non-citizen under ‘fractional ownership’ will provide eligibility to apply for the status of residency provided that the investment by each non-citizen exceeds USD 375,000”.
The assumption for this is for when a husband and wife, or two friends/ investors, buy a property together. For example, they invest in a USD 750,000 villa in Mauritius, and they would both get permanent residence which is a positive option for real estate in Mauritius. This is a very sensible offering and a clever way of giving the spouses of investors the ability to work in Mauritius without an extra permit. For two investors with fractional ownership in real estate in Mauritius, it is a similar principle to two partners setting up a company in Mauritius as an Investor and each putting in USD 50,000 and both getting an Occupation Permit.
3 – Premium Visa in Mauritius for expats
“It will be clarified that the foreign employer of the holder of a Premium Visa will not, in respect of that employee, be subject to the payment of – (i) corporate tax under the Income Tax Act; and (ii) social contribution under the Social Contribution and Social Benefits Act.”
For the Premium Visa Scheme, this measure is just confirming what the interpretation was before the Mauritian budget. There are many benefits to the Premium Visa. Those retirees, remote workers and investors who want to try Mauritius out before committing too much can do so.
4 – Foreign Students in Mauritius
“We will support businesses by enabling them to recruit talents under the young professional occupation permit. And we will enable entrepreneurs and students completing their studies to benefit from the premium visa.”
Anything that encourages talented young students and graduates to choose Mauritius is positive. We think that those in the ICT sector will find the best opportunities. The Young Professional Occupation Permit is certainly under-utilised and needs to be promoted. The Mauritius budget attempts to help with this. It is unclear how the premium visa would be used by graduates here. We assume that they would get a job outside Mauritius whilst remotely working in Mauritius which would seem a strange combination. Time will give more insight.
5 – Other notable measures.
The Freeport of Mauritius
An 8-year income tax holiday will be granted to a newly set up freeport operator or developer making an investment of at least Rs 50 million. Bear in mind that a company operating in the Freeport already has duty-free and VAT-free imports, 3 % corporation tax and many other benefits, there is a firm vision to encourage investment and participation in this.
The Mauritius budget indicates that there will continue to be a focus on the Silver Economy in Mauritius. This relates to those coming to retire in Mauritius and a festival will happen to encourage retirees to try Mauritius as a destination. The provision above concerning investing in real estate above, contemplates the retiree who wants to buy somewhere outside the estates.
One of the measures in the Mauritius budget is for bank accounts to be opened within 1 week. It is hard to see how this would work in practice, but anything to encourage efficiency is always to be encouraged.
Summary of Mauritius Budget
All of the schemes from the previous Mauritius budget that were in place relating to permits and visas are all still in place. This means that Mauritius remains a very friendly place to come to work, retire, live, and invest. Unfortunately, the Solidarity Levy remains in place. Although clearly a good way of picking up tax from high earners, we hope the next Mauritius budget corrects this. In any event, Mauritius remains a top destination for many expats and investors.
- We will have a Zoom/ Teams call or email exchange to understand your requirements.
- We can assist with the finding and purchasing of property, and setting up of an entity to purchase through.
- TBI will advise on the appropriate permit or visa for coming to Mauritius.
- We will send a detailed proposal with clear costs, timeframes and explanations.
- We will assemble the documents and make the application on your behalf.
- If you need assistance with setting up companies whether as an investor or just creating a business here.
- We can assist with relocation tasks such as helping with schools, accommodation, insurance, choosing locations.
- The directors can act as Commissioner for Oaths.
- We can assist with other business advice and can bring in law firms as and when required.
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