A brief summary of Mauritius’ COVID-19 measures
As with many other countries around the world, Mauritius has implemented a stimulus package to help sustain its economy during the COVID-19 crisis. Here follows a summary of Mauritius’ COVID-19 measures.
Measures taken by Mauritius during this time include reducing the repo rate by 100 basis points, setting a fund to support banks as well as implementing certain schemes to assist individuals financially.
In addition, the Mauritian Government have drafted the COVID-19 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (“COVID-19 Bill”) which seeks to combat certain challenges due to the lockdown in respect of employment, tax and compliance.
We have summarised the key measures below:
1. Wage Assistance Scheme (“WAS”)
The WAS was introduced with effect from 23 March 2020. Under WAS, an allowance will be paid by the Mauritian Revenue Authority (“MRA”) to an employer in respect of each eligible employee. Employees who are eligible for the allowance are persons whose monthly basic salary is less than Rs 50 000 for the months of March, April and May 2020 (or other month prescribed by the MRA) and who is employed on a full or part-time basis.
The allowance payable under WAS is as follows:
|Month||Basic salary||Maximum allowance payable (Rs)|
(50% rate applies for employers whose main activity is in Rodrigues or Agalega)
(12 500 for employers whose main activity is in Rodrigues or Agalega)
Notwithstanding the above, employees who are employed on a full-time basis in an export manufacturing company, whose salary does not exceed the national minimum wage are entitled to an allowance of Rs 9 000, provided they are citizens of Mauritius.
Applications for the WAS should be made electronically to the MRA by the employer in respect of each month, together with certain requested information. The application must be made within three months of the relevant month or within a two month period from the date of the COVID-19 period lapses.
2. Self-Employed Assistance Scheme (“SEAS”)
The SEAS was introduced together with the WAS and is intended to provide financial support to individuals who are self-employed during the lockdown period.
An individual will qualify for this relief where they are a Mauritian resident citizen older than 18 years, who is not employed in a full-time or part-time basis, but who is in business or is tradespersons operating in the informal sector (including hairdressers, plumbers, artists etc.), and who have been trading for a period of at least three months before the COVID-19 period.
Any persons earning only passive income (including rent, dividends, interest etc.) is specifically excluded from this scheme. In addition, individuals may be excluded from receiving this benefit under specific circumstances, for example, individuals who receive social benefits, dependent spouses, and individuals whose combined income with their spouse exceeds Rs 50 000 monthly.
Applications for this scheme benefit must be made electronically.
3. COVID-19 levy
In order to mitigate instances where profitable companies claim benefits which are intended for distressed companies and individuals, the COVID-19 levy was introduced.
This levy is a mechanism which allows the government to recoup the amount of WAS already paid to profitable companies.
The COVID-19 levy is applicable for years of assessment commencing on 1 July 2020 and 1 July 2021 and applies to any employer who received an allowance under WAS.
For purposes of this levy, the definition of an “employer” is fairly limited and only applies for employers (including individuals, companies or resident societies) who have an accounting year-end during the period 1 May 2020 to 31 December 2020.
The levy payable under this provision is the lower of:
- The total amount received under the WAS; or
- For an individual – 15% of gross income after deducting specified deductions;
- For a resident societe or company – 15% of the chargeable income (excluding tax losses brought forward)
Interest and penalties (equal to 1% and 10% monthly, respectively) will apply on any late or non-payment of the levy and the Mauritian Revenue Authority has a period of three years to issue a notice in respect of the non-payment of the levy.
4. Additional tax and other important measures
In addition to the above, other important amendments have been put in place to assist individuals and companies during this crisis. These include the following:
Deduction in respect of contributions made to the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund
Where an individual or company makes any contributions to the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund, that person will be allowed to claim a tax deduction in respect of that contribution.
Individuals will be allowed to claim a deduction for the income years commencing on 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2020 respectively, with any excess contributions allowed to be carried forward for two years.
Companies will be allowed to claim a tax deduction for contributions made during the 2021 and 2022 years of assessment with excess contributions allowed to be carried forward.
Additional items have been classified as zero-rated for VAT purposes, including protective masks, gas masks and other breathing appliances, and hand sanitizer.
Any persons who are issued with a permanent residence permit or a residence permit can now apply for an extension or a variation of its permit while being in Mauritius.
Further to the above, any permits which expire or have expired during the COVID-19 crisis, are deemed to be valid during the COVID-19 period and will remain valid for 30 days after the COVID-19 period lapses. In addition, permits which expire within 21 days after the COVID-19 period lapses, will remain valid for 30 days after expiry. The above also applies to any person holding a Mauritian visa.
Certain employment measures have also been put in place to assist during this period. These include:
- Employers may deduct a maximum of 15 days annual leave from employees where the employee has not worked between 23 March and 14 May. Employees who have worked during this period may only have 7.5 days annual leave deduced
- 48 hours’ notice must be given by employees who request to work from home. Similarly, employers must provide 48 hours’ notice to any employee put on flexi-time
- New provisions apply to overtime performed by workers in specified sectors during the COVID-19 period. These include:
- Reducing the overtime rate paid for work performed on public holidays from three times to two times the normal rate
- Express right for employers to pay overtime with time off.
This period is an uncertain time for many. You are welcome to contact us to discuss any other above measures in more detail and to discuss how these measures may benefit you, your companies or your employees. Thank you for reading our summary of Mauritius’ COVID-19 measures. Please follow the link below to get in contact with us if you have any questions regarding the summary of Mauritius’ COVID-19 measures!
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