With recent events which have been unfolding concerning the returning residents’ scheme, it is generally felt that the scheme should be amended.
Back in the 1980’s, successive Governments led by Sir Anerood Jugnauth had found it fit and proper to encouraging Mauritians having acquired experience and expertise abroad to return home with a view to contributing their share to the country's progress and development. In return, the returning resident’s scheme was introduced and special conditions attached to it. For example, the Returning Resident was to remain at least four years in Mauritius and he was not allowed to transfer or disposed of his vehicle for at least four years.
In the 1980’s, it did not matter whether any other person used the vehicle or not, the scheme ensured that the returning resident could enjoy the privilege of shipping its personal car whenever he was returning to Mauritius. There was hardly any restriction as who should be driving the car.
Some 30 years after the introduction of the scheme, a Returning resident is no longer required to have stayed ten years abroad, only five years are mandatory. Further, In the last year Budget, The Exemption threshold is now limited to Rs.1.5 million.
Ministers, MLAs, high ranking Civil Servants, Advisors and all heads of parastatals enjoy the privilege of running a Duty Free Limousine and have the opportunity to selling the car every four years or after duty have been paid on the vehicle.
In view of the inherent shortcomings of the Returning Resident Scheme, there is a need to reconsider the different clauses of the regulation and specifying that only the beneficiary of the Scheme and his immediate family could be running the imported vehicle.
The merits and demerits of the Returning Resident Scheme should be thoroughly studied by all stakeholders. Over and above the amendments which have been proposed here, one could consider that a flat rate of duty be applied to all beneficiaries of all duty free schemes, for instance the Returning Resident scheme as well as the one governing Ministers, MLAs, high ranking civil servants, Advisors and all heads of parastatals. This will create a level playing field in terms of taxation on imported vehicles and discourage all attempts at avoiding the payment of duties on such important vehicles.
15th of August 2013