The Company Secretaries Circle, an initiative of the Mauritius Institute of Directors, has launched its first Position Paper on Trade Fees, with the participation of the Registrar of Companies, through a webinar held this morning.
The Position paper is intended to help the parties concerned work together to clear all inconsistencies and ease the process and will be addressed in the current budget exercise to maintain or even improve our ranking for Ease of Doing Business. It focuses on the matter of trade fees payable by domestic companies and GBC having a physical presence in Mauritius. Its main objective is to raise awareness on difficulties the industry is currently facing the authorities. The Company Secretaries Circle has put forward recommendations which will help to make the transition and process for payment of trade fees smoother.
“Set up in 2015, the Company Secretaries Circle’s purpose has been to provide a forum for Company Secretaries to identify, discuss and share topics of concern and best practices, and contribute to policy development through consultations with the Government and other regulatory bodies. We are very proud to launch this first paper on Trade Fees which will surely help to homogenize procedures and ensure that all stakeholders receive the same information and pay the same fee for similar activities,” said Sheila Ujoodha, Chief Executive Officer of the Mauritius Institute of Directors.
The Company Secretaries Circle’s Position Paper also states the general provisions for payment of Trade Fees. In fact, the law provides that trade fees shall be paid either in one installment on or before the 20th of January or where the fees exceed the sum of Rs 5,000, in 2 installments, the first one on or before the 20th of January and the second one before the 30th of June. The Local Government Act also provides that arrears should be paid first before being able to pay the trade fees for the current period and a surcharge of 50% of the amount of the trade fees shall be levied in case of non-payment of the relevant trade fees.
“The Company Secretaries Circle has since its inception been an exchange forum amongst the Company Secretaries, and with the office of the Registrar of Companies. One of its main objectives has been to collaborate with the Authorities to facilitate the business operations in Mauritius. Since the responsibility of collecting the Trade Fees has been transferred from the municipal and district councils and assigned to the Registrar of Companies as from January 2020, there have been quite a few challenges for the Corporate Services Providers, Company Secretaries and businesses in general,” said Véronique Magny-Antoine, Managing Director at Sileo Corporate Services Ltd and Member of the CSC.
This paper addresses challenges currently being faced by the industry notably: (1) Business Registration, (2) Land promoter and property developer, (3) Inaccuracy of CBRIS, (4) Inconsistency of the Trade code on BRC v/s Trade Code received from the ROC and (4) Inconsistency on the classified Trade list published by the Government Gazette v/s the list on CBRIS. These challenges are fully explained, together with a list of proposed solutions for each item.
“Government has, over the years, made considerable efforts to streamline the process for payment of trade fees. For instance, since 2017 businesses are exempted from payment of trade fees of less than Rs 5,000 for a period of 11 years and since 2021, trade fees are now payable only 2 financial years after the registration of the business instead of 15 days within the start of the activity. Trade fees are now paid at the Corporate and Business Registration Department and there is no need for a business to come physically to the office, making it easier for applicants,” reported Mrs. Prabha Chinien, The Registrar of Companies.
The government bodies and service providers in Mauritius are continuously making substantial efforts to successfully keep pace with the ever-changing global business environment, the proof being that Mauritius ranks 13th globally in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2020. Initiatives to revamp the administrative procedures in line with a business environment which is becoming more and more digitalised are hailed, leading the Company Secretaries to perform their role more efficiently.