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General Business and Finance in Mauritius

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Mauritius have been ranked 28th in a list of 89 countries for ease of doing business by the World Bank Group, 13th in facilities for paying taxes, 17th for trading across borders  and 28th for protecting minority investors. The country position itself fairly on most parameters recorded. Arguably these parameters could have been better but fact remains is that the country though with limited means have been able to cope with the bigger economies. We should nonetheless not sleep on our laurels, much remains to be done, especially in the financial regulation sector. Notwithstanding this, we have seen a cascade of white collar crimes that have propelled Mauritius on the International scenes for the wrong reasons.


White collar crimes was infact first coined in 1939 by sociologist Edwin Sutherland the latter defined it as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation". Mauritius is currently marked as a Tax Haven country where money laundering is unfortunately current game, money is routed through Mauritius to countries like India. Mauritius is neck to neck with Singapore in the injection of FDI in India having under its belt preferential treaties like the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.


Over the last couple of years we have observed many cases of erring financial transactions that turned out to be what they was not in the first place. Adopting the Ostrich policy of putting our head in the sand does not help anybody. These fraudulent activities created a snowball effect that will last for a long while, a sense of insecurity. It can take years or even decades to build a reputation, but it can be destroyed in a matter of minutes.
Mauritius have for years, along with Seychelles, and still is, be blacklisted by many countries and institutions/ organisations for Taxation and money laundering. Just ask yourself why PayPal does not enable fund transfer to banks in Mauritius?




The “Art” of extracting money at any cost have taken alarming proportions in recent months, even the most vulnerable segments of our society have not been spared. Sunkai, White dot or more recently BAI, just to name a few, the amount of money swindled kept on increasing to reach staggering amounts,unheard before. White collar crimes can be very devastating. Imagine saving your hard earnt money for 30 years, someday you wake up and its all gone, 30 years of your life. The thought of it is enough to send shivers in the spine of most of us. You no longer know who to turn to and desperation takes over you.


Scams does not limit itself to banking or financial institutions, they are also done at lower levels but with equally devastating effects. Though the CCID generally make arrests afterwards the harm is already done. Seizure of properties, cars or bank checks, but when the money have already left our shores, retracing it is not always a piece of cake. Besides financial scam, fake recruiters pop in the game pretending to beneficiate from high connections in the government claiming to be in position to speak for your benefit to get you a job, permit or even promises of a foreign trip.

Contrary to popular belief fraudsters do not always prey only for the most vulnerable segments of our society, when their fraudulent activities are revealed, we often see senior cadres, professionals or even policemen in the net. The temptation for big money often overcame rational thinking.

There are several institutions responsible for the proper running of the economy these institutions acts as a barrier, some of them include the Bank of Mauritius (BoM), Board of Investment (BOI), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Financial Services Commission (FSC), Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) and the Ministry of Financial Services, Good Governance and Institutional Reforms that technically is the body that oversees all the above mentioned institutions. They collectively, even in different spheres share the responsibility to make sure that the country remains economically afloat and does not drift. A wrong interpretation of actual financial mathematics by these regulatory bodies can have drastic effects on the economy. Several countries went bankrupt or in the state of depression after it was found that the economy crossed the red line unnoticed since a long time. Many countries in the course of history went bankrupt, for example Iceland in 2008,  Argentina in 2001, Pakistan in 2008 dangerously threaded on the thin red line, not to mention the Great German depression of 1945 or Zimbabwe in 2008. Mauritius should learn how to avert these catastrophic sequence of events with greater common purpose of its institutions.


Banks are the lungs of the economy, it is essential that the BoM have at close look the activities of Bank whether they are licensed to carry commercial transactions or non commercial ones. We have seen in the past how many banks had to close their doors. Bank closing does not inspire confidence in potential investors who then prefer to look elsewhere. Regulatory body should be vested with more powers to have a closer look at banks, formalities to obtain a banking license should be tough. The different cash reserve ratio and other vital parameters monitored at closer intervals.


Doing business in Mauritius is not always a piece of cake, but the challenges that comes on the way are not insurmountable. If you abide by the rules and show patience and perseverance it will pay off in the end. It is particularly this patience that many may not be able to endure, for example according to the World Bank Group, the country stands at the 117 spot when it comes to deal with construction permits. Despite the fact that between year 2014 and 2015, the country have gained 11 places, a long way must be threaded.  It is shortcuts to bypass such difficulties that often leave people at the hands of crooks without scruples. However we cannot blame the state for all ills, individually speaking, each one should be able to bear his own responsibilities. Despite all information available, many individuals still opt for quick money that is not always the best odds.


Before setting up a business it is essential to have a good accountant, maybe even more important than to have a lawyer. Many people do not essentially understand the the need for a business to have an Accountant. A good accountant will ensure that you have a sound Financial Data Management, provide analysis and advice, the preparation of financial reports and most accountants also have a good insight of the general regulation related to setting up a company and which licenses needed for your business to comply to lawful practices. The process is very technical in nature hence requires someone with precise skill, that while being effective is also trustworthy. You are going to share information capital for the functioning of your business, information that will only be processed duly by an accountant.


Recently a Swedish Citizen alleged to have been swindled MUR 68 Million invested for an IRS Project. According to news outlets, the Swedish National injected MUR 32 Million in July and MUR 30 Million in December upon receiving official documents from the Board of Investment stipulating the clauses to get a permit to carry an IRS project. This document in itself only elaborates on the conditions to get such a permit, it is not an assessment of the identified land. The latter contacted an investment company to finance the projects who in turn discovered that this land is not suitable for such a project. Now the person who initiated the deal threatened the investor to make the person leave the country. Who is to be blamed? All involved parties bear a share of the responsibility at varying degrees. If you are going to invest MUR 68 Millions in a project, you need to properly evaluate all the parameters that are involved, you cannot invest such money without knowing everything that is related to the project. Verify all documents with independent professionals i.e. accountant or even better government bodies. Make sure that those who verify and confirms to you that all is legal and in order, provides you with this in writing. It is a good idea not to put all your eggs in a single basket and it may be even better to provide bank guarantees that is subject to the delivery and regulations are upheld.


The Government have institutions but at the end of the day you are the only one to make your decision. The Board of Investment should make it a must to properly analyse all factors before granting any permission, in future it is desirable that the BOI investigate properly on the feasibility of the project even if it means going an extra mile, in so doing we will preserve the reputation of the country.


Thirdly the person who facilitated the deal obviously share the biggest share of blame, the money should have been simply restituted to the investor when it became clear that the project is not feasible due to the incompatibility of the land to IRS projects. Threatening the person de facto makes you responsible for the mess no matter how much the investor did not thoroughly check all the details of the project.  If you are asked to invest millions in a project, and you do not do any research and you just pay any Tom, Dick and Harry out of mere trust, then chances that tomorrow you do not see your project stand the ground is a reality you might have to face.





Inspite of the fact that Mauritius does well in the World Bank Group statistics, white collar crimes remain a major preoccupation into protecting the image of the country, its citizens and those who are interested in investing in Mauritius. There needs to be a more coordinated approach from the different financial institutions. It requires a regular dialogue between the regulatory bodies. The Financial Services Commission should work together with the Board of Investment and the Mauritius Revenue Authority to create a greater framework. The country have recently set up a Ministry of Financial Services, Good Governance and Institutional Reforms, aiming to create the best economical structure to propel the country into a new economic era.


Mauritius remains a good investment platform with its stable political scene, absence of natural calamities at large scale and functioning democracy. The aforementioned reasons are additional reasons why we need to target the loopholes, eliminate fraudulent malversations and create a framework that will lead to an increased dynamism and acumen boosting the country standards. Our future cannot be haphazardly entrenched into a spiral that will affect the generations to come. There is no better way to do that, than establish good practices and making sure that everybody is abiding by the same rule, creating institutions empowered to make the right discern.

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Arshad Dewkunkhan is Editor at Mauritius Yellow Pages, aged 25, resident of Rose - Hill. Former student of the St Joseph college with a formal education at College and University in Business Side.   Arshad is an avide reader, manages several Social Media pages, a football fanatic and loves spending time by nature.  


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