In 2013, Mauritius proceeded with the inauguration of a
modern state-of-the-art passenger terminal at Sir Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam International Airport. The new terminal, which covers
a total surface area of 57,000 m2, will enable the country to
handle 4 million passengers annually (against 2.7 million
presently), whilst helping to project Mauritius on the
international scene and boost commercial exchanges and the
tourism industry. The main idea is to provide the latest in
terms of infrastructure in order to increase the number of
foreigners entering Mauritius.
However, the underlying reasoning behind attracting more
foreigners is not simply to boost the tourism industry. In
2005, Mauritius introduced the Integrated Resorts Scheme (IRS),
allowing non-citizens to purchase property (mostly in the form
of luxury villas) in the country. At the time, the government
set a target of 1,000 villas to be sold within the next eight
years. Although only a quarter of that target has been achieved
so far (slightly more than 500 villas sold), the government of
Mauritius has implemented various measures aiming to encourage
more foreigners to invest in property.
The standout feature is the fact that category 1 global
business companies (offshore companies) can now acquire
properties under the IRS or the Real Estate Scheme (RES)
banner. As such, foreign investors are no longer required to
purchase property under their own name, but can do so through
an offshore company (which is taxable at a rate of 3%). This
will result in more investment carried out through Mauritius'
offshore sector whilst also increasing the visibility of
Mauritius on a global level. Such a measure will also encourage
investors to consider investing more into the property and
construction sectors in Mauritius.
Rowin Gurusami, BLC Chambers