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Mauritius has taken recent steps to facilitate the return of Mauritian diaspora from various parts of the globe. These Mauritians migrants total some 200,000 individuals who moved abroad in several waves of migrations. The first came in the early 1960s before the declaration of Mauritian independence, and then another followed in the early 1980s.
Mauritian diaspora picked up again onwards from the mid-2000s when the government was restructuring the country’s economy. As part of this restructuring, the government sought overseas employment for displaced local workers in the textile and sugar industries.
Mauritian diaspora spread across five continents. About half of the total Mauritian migrants are in Europe, mainly in the UK and France. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are also host to many Mauritian migrants.
The government adopted a forward-looking agenda when it actively sought to send Mauritians to work overseas. Through this initiative, the government opened an opportunity for the Mauritian migrants to save money for investment in the country later. As important, the Mauritian diaspora have been sending substantial yearly remittances to the country that amounted to USD250 million in 2015.
The Mauritian migrants, moreover, were given opportunities to learn new skill sets. These could potentially contribute to the country’s economic development with the migrants’ return to Mauritius.
Mauritius found it an opportune time to harness the full potential of its migrants in 2015. The country initiated that year the Mauritian Diaspora Scheme offering incentives to returning migrants and/or their qualified descendants.
The scheme offers some generous tax exemptions. It exempts migrants from tax on income from within or outside Mauritius for 10 years after returning to the country. Their purchase of Mauritius real estate is exempt from registration fee.
Excise duty exemption of up to MUR2million also applies on a car that a scheme-qualified migrant imports or brings in. Tax exemptions likewise apply on the household and personal belongings that scheme-registered migrants bring when they move to Mauritius.
Non-citizen descendants of Mauritian diaspora are eligible under the scheme to obtain permanent resident status. Having this status allows further enjoyment of the liberal tax regime in Mauritius for the long term. Significantly, the government recently extended the permanent resident permit in Mauritius from 10 years to 20 years. This extension is amongst the government measures for a post-coronavirus economic recovery wherein support from Mauritian diaspora could contribute most.