GIS - 13 March, 2020: Government is doing its utmost best to reduce the consequential impacts of the pandemic COVID-19 on the Mauritian economy and has come up with a financial support plan to the tune of some Rs 9 billion for economic operators across all sectors of activities including the Small and Medium Enterprises who are affected by the significant economic slowdown.
The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, made this statement at a press conference held this evening in Port-Louis.
He underlined that the Plan has been conceived with the help of institutions such as the Bank of Mauritius (BoM), the Economic Development Board, Business Mauritius, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and the Mauritius Export Association, amongst others, to mitigate the adverse impacts of COVID-19.
The Minister observed that on the stock market, several countries are being affected by the imbalance created in supply and demand following the outbreak of COVID-19. He stated that there is considerable impact on the global economic growth adding that Mauritius can experience a negative impact of 1% to 6,5 % on its Gross Domestic Product.
To this end, he said, several fiscal and monetary measures are being put at the disposal of economic operators at the macroeconomic and cross-sectoral level. He stated that the BoM has already communicated guidelines on Credit Impairment Measurement and Income Recognition following a decrease of 0,5% in the key repo rate. A Special Relief Amount of about Rs 5 billion, he added, has been made available by the BoM for which disbursement will be made through commercial banks from 23 March to 31 July 2020.
Other measures include: an Equity Participation Scheme by the State Investment Corporation Ltd to assist enterprises to overcome financial difficulties; a Revolving Credit Fund of some Rs 200 million at the Development Bank of Mauritius to help companies with turnover of less than Rs 10 million; and a double tax deduction on the investment in Plant and Machinery for the period 01 March to 30 June 2020. Schemes under the Investment Support Programme Ltd and SME Equity Fund Ltd will also be reviewed for greater efficiency.
Moreover, the Finance Minister stated that all works permits expiring this year will be extended automatically up to 31 December 2021. As regards minimising human contacts, Government will promote the Work at Home Scheme and will set up an e-Government Digital Bureau for the provision of public services through electronic means.
With regard to measures taken for the tourism sector, he highlighted that the Passenger Fee on Air Ticket will be suspended for tourists coming from Reunion Island, Australia, and South Africa up to 31 July 2020. Air Mauritius Ltd will extend its promotional fare strategy to attract tourists from Reunion Island, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia while hotel operators will provide a discount from 15 to 35% for tourists from these countries.
Speaking about the exports sector, the Minister stated that the Freight Rebate Scheme will be extended for exports to South Africa and Tamatave and that the Speed to Market Scheme will be broadened to include exports of manufacturing to Africa, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Middle East up to 31 December 2020.
As for the local production, he announced that an amount of Rs 100 million has been earmarked to encourage local production of food crops and urged owners of sugar estates to put, at the disposal of small planters, additional land for cultivation of crops and vegetables.
Minister Padayachy also stated that a sum of some Rs 208 million has been made available to the Ministry of Health and Wellness for the acquisition of new medical equipment in the wake of the COVID-19.
An Implementation and Monitoring Committee under the chair of the Financial Secretary, Mr Dev Manraj, comprising representatives from public and private sectors has been set up to ensure effective implementation of the support plan, he added.
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