SMEs -‘ Île Maurice Nation D’entrepreneurs’ : The SME Bank
28. Madam Speaker, I now come to the most ambitious goal of this Government - making the SME sector the backbone of our economy.
29. Let me ask this question. Should we continue with business as usual and perpetuate an economic system that favours concentration of the productive assets of our economy in the hands of a few? Or do we empower more of our citizens to become entrepreneurs to have a wider participation and better sharing of the wealth we create as a nation?
30. Madam Speaker, here also we have come to the crossroad and we must choose the right course.
31. So far we have only seen a piecemeal and fragmented approach to providing support to the SME sector. The outcomes have been far below expectations.
32. We need a more coherent strategy and scheme that provide meaningful support at all levels to young entrepreneurs; from conceptualisation of a project, to its realisation. It will cover support on financing, choice of production methods and technology, and marketing. To achieve this, I am proposing a comprehensive “One Stop Shop” approach to the SME sector.
33. First, I am launching the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank (SME Bank) to provide seed capital to entrepreneurs without any need for personal guarantee. As I have said on several occasions, an amount of Rs 10 billion will be made available to the Bank over the next five years, starting with a share capital of Rs 200 million and a line of credit of Rs 2 billion from Government for its first year of operation. The SME Bank will be located on the ground floor of SICOM Tower at Ebene.
34. Second, we are setting up a One-Stop-Shop which will provide under one roof, all the support, financing and information, as well as the delivery of all the permits and licenses that SMEs require to start and grow their businesses. This One Stop Shop, managed by SMEDA, will be located on the first three floors of the SICOM Tower at Ebene.
35. Third, to further facilitate the young entrepreneurs in their business ventures, access to working capital will be ensured by the State Bank of Mauritius which will have a dedicated desk in the SICOM Tower.
36. Fourth, SMEDA will operate on a fast track mechanism to ensure that all necessary permits and approvals needed to carry out business are delivered within the minimum time. In this context, the number of permits and licenses will be streamlined and reduced to the strict minimum.
37. Fifth, in line with the spirit of One Stop Shop, the New SMEDA will be empowered to collect Trade Fees on behalf of local authorities.
38. Sixth, - and this is a major fiscal incentive - SMEs registered under the Scheme will be exempted from the payment of corporate tax for a period of 8 years.
39. Seventh, Government is significantly increasing the industrial space for SMEs by creating 7 more SME Parks in addition to the 3 recent ones at Roche Bois, La Tour Koenig and Bambous.
40. Eighth, VAT registration threshold is being increased from Rs 4 million to Rs 6 million. This measure concerns all SMEs.
41. Ninth, the turnover threshold for submission of quarterly return under the Advance Payment System is being raised from Rs 4 million to Rs 10 million.
42. Tenth, the annual fee payable to the Registrar of Companies by a small private company with turnover not exceeding Rs 10 million is being reduced from Rs 2,500 to Rs 500.
43. We are confident that our youth will boldly move in this sector of great future. In fact, Madam Speaker, this generous package of incentives will be further improved. I am inviting the youth of our country to motivate us to bring about further improvements.