The Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill was voted in the National Assembly on 16 May 2017.
During his summing up on the Bill, the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Jugnauth, underlined that the purpose of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is to address certain weaknesses that need urgent solutions and issues which require legislative amendments. In parallel, Government has been proactive in improving the doing business environment by re-engineering business processes, he added.
The Prime Minister stressed that the Bill provides for amendments to the legislative framework which are prerequisite for the removal of constraints in relation to permits, licences, authorisations and clearances to further facilitate the doing of business. It encompasses several issues to reform the business environment and streamline procedures on an on-going process.
Speaking of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Licence, Mr Jugnauth underpinned that the process for determining the licence is not being amended. On this score, he pointed out that promoters will be requested to submit an outline of their development to the Ministry of Environment prior to submitting an EIA Report. This, he said, will allow the promoter to be informed beforehand by the Ministry of the key elements which should be considered in the EIA report.
In the same drive, he underlined that Government will continue to remove bottlenecks hindering the ease of doing business by emphasising the need for the implementation of the e-licensing project which forms part of a broader Business Facilitation Programme.
The Platform has two fundamental components namely: a Business Process Re-engineering on all licenses and permits prior to them being automated; and a review of the regulatory framework including a Regulatory Impact Assessment which include online submission of applications; a 24-hour service to applicants; tracking and monitoring of applications; electronic processing of applications; and e-payment facilities.
The Prime Minister recalled that the Ministry of Labour is also developing an e-work permit platform which will be launched in July 2017. He underlined the collection of social charges by the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) that will impact on business facilitation, especially for SMEs, namely employers will have a single point for paying taxes and remitting social charges; employers will benefit from the wide array of e-facilities at the level of the MRA; and fees and other bank charges will be reduced as businesses will be allowed to lump their various tax payments and remittances of social charges.
As regards the need for electronic filing of accounts, Mr Jugnauth added that the Corporate and Business Registration Department has implemented the Extensible Business Reporting Language system whereby listed companies can now file their accounts electronically and it will be gradually extended to all companies.
Moreover, he pointed out that the exemption of registration duty and land transfer tax on the transfer of a warehouse or land to be used for the construction of a warehouse also forms part of the business facilitation measures, as 10% exemption automatically reduces the cost of setting up a warehouse; 5% representing registration duty payable by the buyer and 5% for land transfer tax payable by the seller on the immovable property. This incentive for the setting up of warehouses is important in the context of export and Africa strategies, he added.
The Prime Minister stressed that Government will monitor and assess very closely the impact of the various amendments brought in the Bill and ensure that all the measures, legal and administrative, taken to improve the ease of doing business are being properly implemented.