Mauritius: The Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) proceeded to the launching ceremony of the first payments of the Independence Allowance and the ‘Contribution Sociale Généralisée’ (CSG) Child Allowance this afternoon at the Sir Harilall Vaghjee Hall in Port Louis.
The Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth; the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy; the Director General (DG) of the MRA, Sudhamo Lal; and other personalities were also present on the occasion.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Jugnauth recalled that the MRA was created at the time that he was Finance Minister, adding that the MRA has lived up to its name by reaching the level it is at today.
“I would like to thank all Officers who have contributed to making this institution recognised nationally and regionally throughout Africa as well as internationally,” he stated.
Moreover, Prime Minister Jugnauth underlined that before the implementation of these two measures, the Appropriation Bill was voted on 14 June 2023, and the law needed to be amended through the Finance (Social Contribution and Social Benefits) Act 2021, which was done on 18 July 2023. Again, the rapid implementation of these measures in such a short time proves the efficiency of the MRA and its employees, he underscored.
These measures, Jugnauth highlighted, emanate from the core of consultations carried out during the Budgetary preparations for 2023-2024 in a bid to relieve the population from the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the economy, followed by the Russia-Ukraine war that caused a rise in the level of inflation.
The Prime Minister further emphasised that the World’s economy has suffered for some time, yet, Mauritius has been commended by international institutions such as the World Health Organization and the World Bank for the way in which we have dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Speaking of the CSG Child Allowance, Jugnauth observed that the Government had developed this initiative to assist the population, particularly parents, in these difficult times. This allowance will cost the Government some 1.2 billion rupees, and in addition to this, Value Added Tax has also been abolished on baby products such as bottles, nappies and baby creams in order to bring some relief to parents, he underpinned.
As for the Independence Allowance, Prime Minister Jugnauth indicated that it concerns nearly 15 000 young people who have turned or will turn 18 as of 01 January 2023. The Government has complete confidence in its youth and trusts that this allowance will be put to good use, such as for the purchase of school equipment or even invested towards starting a small business, he highlighted.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister dwelt on previous measures taken, such as full payment for overseas treatment for certain illnesses and for treatments that are not available in Mauritius; an increase in child allowance for widows; an increase of the pension for disabled persons; an increase of the grant allocated to parents with twins and triplets; ‘prime à lemploi’ up to Rs 15000 as an incentive for industries to recruit youths; free preprimary schooling and; free tertiary education.
He also recalled that from 2019 to date, the Government had spent 2.3 billion rupees as regards free tertiary education, which benefitted some 35 000 youths. “We also spend around 350 million rupees yearly for the School Certificate and Higher School Certificate Examination Fees,” Jugnauth said.
On this score, Prime Minister Jugnauth underscored that the Government is committed to assisting all age groups of people, from the elderly through the increase in the Basic Pension Scheme to the youths and babies as well.
“We also catered for working people and those who have home loans through the Home Loan Interest Relief Scheme of Rs 1000 monthly,” he added.
For his part, the Finance Minister highlighted that as announced in the Budget Speech 2023-2024, the MRA has been entrusted with the responsibility to pay a monthly CSG Child Allowance of Rs 2,000 to children aged up to three years for the months of July 2023 to June 2024 while a one-off allowance of Rs 20,000 will be paid to eligible youths who have attained the age of 18 years on or after 01 January 2023.
These two measures, Dr Padayachy underpinned, are landmark decisions and shape a defining moment in the history of our welfare state. “The MRA is proving to be extremely instrumental in implementing the Government’s wide range of social measures from the Wage Assistance Scheme to the CSG Allowances,” he observed.
Furthermore, he indicated that measures are being introduced in every yearly budget decision to benefit the population. “As a Government, we believe in putting the citizens at the centre of all decisions because the welfare of the population comes before any other factors,” the Minister stated.
In addition, the Finance Minister emphasised that the Government wants to simultaneously create national wealth and implement measures that are inclusive so that everyone can benefit from the economy and build a prosperous and inclusive Mauritian Republic.
As for the MRA’s Director-General, he indicated that since 2017, the MRA has been mandated to provide direct financial assistance to the population, which started through the Negative Income Tax Scheme. Since then, several income support schemes to enable hundreds and thousands of citizens to live more decently have been implemented, he added.
Furthermore, Lal remarked that the CSG Child Allowance will act as a safety net for children whose parents do not work or are temporarily out of work and in fact, complements the existing Negative Income Tax Scheme and aims at supporting working households.
As regards the Independence Allowance, the DG stressed that this trust and investment in the youths of our country will bring its return as our youths are the future of the country and our future taxpayers as well.
Speaking of the financial achievements of the MRA, Mr Lal recalled that the MRA collected a total revenue of Rs 112.6 million for the financial year ending 30 June 2022, representing an unprecedented revenue growth of 26%. “I am pleased to announce that for this last financial year 2022/2023, a total of Rs 137 billion, that is, a revenue growth of 21.6%, has been achieved,” he said.
On this note, he underscored that through the sustained efforts of the authority, collecting revenue and; social contributions from the Government, our citizens are reaping the benefits of an efficient tax administration in the form of redistribution of money under the various schemes implemented.
“I hope that the MRA can continue to meet the aspirations of stakeholders and together build a more prosperous Mauritius,” he concluded.