Over and above its primary mandate of investment promotion and facilitation, the Board of Investment has been at the forefront of several initiatives throughout 2016 to lay the groundwork for another era of prosperity in Mauritius. Some of BOI’s major initiatives, responsibilities and results are highlighted hereunder.
Promotion and facilitation
BOI has facilitated the materialisation of 128 projects in diverse sectors such as ICT, manufacturing, Freeport and property development, amongst others. These have directly contributed to the creation of some 5,360 jobs, an increase of nearly 10% from the number of jobs generated in 2015. FDI is expected to reach some MUR 14 billion.
However, regarding Doing Business, changes applied in the methodology for country ranking have adversely affected the global position of Mauritius. But corrective actions to propel the country up in the index have been taken in the light off the measures announced in the 2016/2017 Budget. On the other hand, rapid progress is being achieved in the operationalisation of the e-licensing project whereby investors will be provided with a single platform for the submission of applications relating to their projects. This is seen as a great step to enhance efficiency.
Furthermore, upon the Fast Track Committee’s (FTC) recommendation, BOI will issue permits and licenses where it is deemed that projects are unnecessarily delayed because of administrative duplication among relevant agencies or ministries. There are some MUR 100-billion worth of projects currently being assessed by the FTC. Several other committees have been put in place to ensure that prompt action and improvement are made in those areas where weaknesses have been identified, namely trading across borders or access to electricity, in order to positively impact the business environment.
The Board of Investment has been involved in the organisation of several workshops and conferences that will help us move higher in the value chain and improve our market offering. The recommendations resulting from the workshops on digital economy and on agro-industry were included in the 2016/2017 Budget.
In addition, two workshops were held with stakeholders to devise a blueprint for the film industry and for the creation of a free zone, respectively. These sectors are expected to undergo major transformations, and their respective roadmap is being finalised for implementation early in 2017.
Another conference, a first of its kind, was also organised on Blockchain. The focus was on the urgency to popularise the technology for its adoption in as many sectors as possible given its prominence in the new Fintech architecture which is revolutionising the business world.
With a view to positioning Mauritius as a hub in the region, two landmark conferences, namely the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) Congress held last May attracted eminent personalities across the globe, while the African Partnership Conference (APC) generated a buzz promoting Mauritius as the most reliable business platform for Africa.
While technologies like Blockchain are expedient, the relevant regulatory framework may not be in place for their adoption in the short term. The Regulatory Sandbox License is, therefore, a new mechanism envisaged by BOI to attract innovative projects where there exists no adequate legal framework or provisions for their implementation. The guidelines have already been drafted and BOI is already giving due consideration to a number of applications in areas such as e-payment platforms, crowd lending or crowd funding and life sciences.
There are currently 5,743 Occupation Permit holders plying their trade in Mauritius as investors, self-employed individuals or professionals who are imparting their skills in areas where nationals lack expertise. At the same time, one year after its inception, the Mauritian Diaspora Scheme has already attracted 80 nationals from overseas. Their contribution to economic development can only prove significant.
BOI also opened a third office overseas. The Johannesburg agency complements the work being conducted in Paris, covering the European market, while the New Delhi arm is endeavouring to connect Asia with the emerging African business community via the Mauritius business platform. The new office will be instrumental in the continual implementation of the Africa strategy and facilitate investment into the continent.
Several roadshows and promotional missions were organised, mostly in collaboration with the overseas offices, with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development leading delegations in certain instances. India, China, South Africa, France and the UAE were the target of these initiatives. These initiatives demonstrate BOI’s enlarged scope of actions and responsibilities. They confirm the institution’s role to assist in the realisation of the nation’s new economic agenda.
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