Source: WCO/Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA)
Measures taken by MRA Customs
- Activation of the Relief Consignment Mechanism
MRA Customs is giving expedited release to relief consignments arriving by special chartered air flights. Goods cleared in this category include Covid-19 Test Kits, medicaments and pharmaceuticals, face masks, sanitizers, reagents and other goods of prime necessity. Moreover, clearance for essential goods such as basic necessities is being prioritised.
In line with WCO recommended Best Practices, our national legislation makes provision for the treatment of Relief Consignments (an extract of the relative legislation is provided at Annex 1).
2. Removal of duties and Taxes on PPEs
VAT has been removed on hand sanitizers, protective masks, gloves, test kits, and other related medical equipment (taken effect since 24 March 2020).
3. Assisting economic operators with cashflow problems
(i) Deferred Payment Scheme
Customs is encouraging more businesses especially SMEs to join the Scheme. Under this scheme Customs allows release of goods, including excisable goods, without payment of duties and taxes at time of delivery; operators pay by the 7th of next month.
(ii) Duty and taxes suspended regime
Customs has eased the conditions for the approval of bonded warehouses/entities/places. Under this Customs procedure, economic operators can warehouse goods for a maximum period of 24 months; duties and taxes become payable as and when goods are ex- warehoused.
(iii) Waiver of penalties and interest for late payments
Given the lockdown prevailing in Mauritius, stakeholders who are unable to effect payment on or before the prescribed deadline under the Deferred Payment Scheme (DPS), were waived from payment of penalty or interest for late payment of Customs duty, excise duty and taxes. Storage charges have been waived for those stakeholders who have not been able to take delivery of their consignments during Sanitary Curfew and lock down (Annex 2).
4. Establishment of dedicated communication channel
A communiqué has been published on MRA website and a communication line between Customs and external stakeholders has been established for the smooth running of operations. Economic operators have been provided a common email address and a dedicated phone number to contact Customs at any time for any urgent issues (Copy of communiqué is at Annex 3).
5. Working from Home
All necessary arrangements have been made to enable a team of Customs Officers to work from home so as to ensure a smooth running of the core and essential services such as monitoring and clearance of consignments through the Customs Management System (CMS), risk management and excise operations. Customs Officers involved in post-clerance audit have also been provided with this facility.
6. Protection of officers working at front-lines
All frontline Customs Officers have been provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- face masks, gloves and hand sanitizers - to be used during the performance of their duties at the Port and Airport. The front-liners have been issued with Work Access Permit under the signature of the Commissioner of Police for movement from and to their residence during the Sanitary Curfew.
It is to be noted that officers aged 50 years and above and those having health issues have been excluded from the team of core staff working at the borders. They have, instead, been hooked on the online platform to enable them to perform their duties safely and securely from their home.
7. Web-based submission of Customs declarations
MRA Customs negotiated with the Service Provider to allow, free of charge, web-based access to the CMS by ALL economic operators transacting business with Customs. This initiative enables brokers/freight forwarders and other declarants to work from home.
The Facilities for the electronic submission of Customs Declarations, including electronic payment of duties and taxes, are available on the CMS.
8. Optimizing use of scanners
The optimum use of non-intrusive x-ray scanning is being done so as to minimise physical examinations by customs officers.
9. Ensuring business continuity
- MRA Customs is using IT technology to conduct on-line meetings among Management Team and other high level officers in order to resolve any operational issues and discuss strategic measures in this current period of crisis
- All stakeholders of the supply chain including Other Governmental Agencies are hooked on an online platform in order to facilitate trade and quickly resolve any trade related issues.
Some main measures taken by the Government of Mauritius
1. Government has closed the air space to prevent and fight spread of the imported Covid-19 infection in Mauritius.
2. A Sanitary Curfew has been put in force in Mauritius to prevent spread of the Covid-19 infection. The Mauritius Police Force has been mandated to ensure compliance with the conditions of the Sanitary Curfew.
3. There is a vast sensitization campaign launched by Government with the support of the media and other key stakeholders to encourage population to stay at home to prevent spread of the Covid-19.
4. Daily information is broadcasted to public via all local media on the evolution in number of cases detected, number of deaths, and number of contact tracings among others by a special Committee set up by Government for that purpose namely the National Communication Committee on Covid-19.
5. There is a dedicated website set up (https://besafemoris.mu/) for information sharing on Covid-19 evolution in Mauritius.
6. Government has also set up three schemes as follows:
i) National Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to the poor and needy;
ii) Self-Employed Assistance Scheme (SEAS) to assist self-employed persons who have suffered a loss of revenue as a consequence of the lockdown in the fight against Covid- 19; and
iii) Wage Assistance Scheme to ensure that all employees in the private sector are duly paid their salary for the month of March 2020 and MRA has been tasked with this responsibility.