Society of Chartered Accountants Annual Dinner 2015, 22 October 2015
Henessy Park Hotel, Ebene
Economic outlook 2016: Chartered Accountants key to growth of the Mauritian economy
The Society of Chartered Accountants Mauritius (SOCAM) held its annual dinner on Thursday 22nd of October 2015, sponsored by ICAEW. This high profile event held at Hennessy Park Hotel in Ebene, was an opportunity for Chartered Accountants in Mauritius, to meet in a relaxed atmosphere and take the time to reflect on the theme: Economic Outlook 2016.
Laura Yeung, President of SOCAM said “I was delighted to be appointed as President of this prestigious society earlier this year. Our members include Mauritian business leaders from a broad spectrum across accountancy practices, business and government – operating at the highest levels. This event was an opportunity for us to connect, discuss current economic developments and see how, as Chartered Accountants, we can work to support the future prosperity of Mauritius”
During the ceremony, Michael Armstrong, ICAEW Director Middle East, Africa and South Asia delivered a speech on “how the accountancy profession can help the Mauritian Government achieve their 2025 goals” and Richard Arlove, CEO of Abax Corporate Services, shared his views on the Global Business Sector. The Honourable, Xavier-Luc Duval, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and External Communications, was the chief guest of this 2015 edition.
The key strength for the financial sector in Mauritius is the geographic location of the island, strategically placed between Africa and two of the world’s biggest and most promising economies: India and China. Thus, it allows Mauritius to emerge as a financial hub between the African and Asian continents.
Michael Armstrong who was on his second visit to Mauritius in 2015 added “The accountancy profession is one of the cornerstones of sustainable economic development in any country,” He also acknowledged the local government’s plans for a more diversified and resilient economy and its intention to obtain a High Income Country status by 2025. According to Michael Armstrong, a strong, ethical accountancy profession can help to achieve this goal by developing the business and financial sector and creating trust. He pointed out the fact that “Mauritius is regularly ranked as the number one financial centre in Africa and it does well globally in economic freedom rankings, and is already pretty highly developed.” He added that in order to maintain and to develop the business and financial centre, Mauritius has to evolve and work constantly to improve its offer.
As for Richard Arlove, he emphasized on the Global Business Sector. ”Much has been said about Mauritius being a tax haven, but it is our responsibility to say loud and clear that it is not the case. And to explain why. We should also stop referring to the offshore sector. This is the old paradigm. Now, BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) is coming. This is a very important initiative that will be a game changer for multinationals and will have a direct impact on us as a financial centre. We have no choice but to adapt. This is what we did when the sugar protocol lapsed and the multifibre agreements for textile stopped. We changed the paradigm. We moved from the sugar industry to the cane industry; from broad based textile industry to more niche products. We need to reshape our model since it dates back to 25 years ago! That’s a long time in our industry! The more we can add to financial services the more services Mauritius can provide to people doing business in Africa.”
“Developing skills is a great way to improve your position and will help attract businesses and also help increase the number of local entrepreneurs with financial expertise.” claimed Michael Armstrong. He believes strongly that ICAEW can be of great help to support the Mauritian economy. “ICAEW’s strategy is to work in partnership with African Professional Accountancy Organisations to develop capacity, knowledge and skills and to support the growth of local economies in the long run. Over the past five years, we have been building capacity in seven African countries which were working with the World Bank. We have established a National Professional Accountancy Qualification for Botswana and Malawi and strengthened governance, regulation and technical standards in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia for example,” he said. Michael Armstrong believes that Mauritius has its building blocks in place and ICAEW could act as a ladder to reach the goal fixed by the government.
The annual dinner has now become an established tradition and 84 members attended the 2015.