Investing in the Mauritian Stock Market (SEM)

I had been planning to write this post for quite some time now as many fellow newbie investors asked for the steps to start investing in the Mauritian stock market on Reddit. With plummeting bank savings rates and fixed deposit rates, people are looking for alternative ways to invest their hard-earned money to get a higher return on their investments. One of the more straightforward way is to invest in shares of listed companies and earn returns in the form of:

    • Capital gains

Capital gain is simply the profit someone makes when selling an asset for more than the purchase price. Mauritius does not levy a capital gains tax on the sale of shares and other securities unless the sale happens less than six months after the purchase. It will therefore be classified as ordinary income and taxed at 15%.

For example:
Investor A buys 100 shares of company X on 1st April 2020 at Rs 200/share. He sells the shares on 1st April 2021 at Rs250/Share. There is no capital gains tax on his profit of Rs5000 he made when he sold the shares since he held them for more than 6 months.

    • Dividend income

A dividend is paid out to shareholders from a company’s earnings, usually from part of its profits. Dividend payment is decided by the board of directors and approved by shareholders and a company is NOT obligated to pay dividends to its shareholders. Dividends payable by resident companies that are listed on the stock exchange of Mauritius to its shareholders, do not attract any taxes.  So, any dividend income earned from stocks held is tax-free.

Disclaimer

I bank with MCB Ltd, and I use MCB Capital Market as a stockbroking agent, so my views may be biased as I have not used any other stockbroking company. For me, the rationale behind choosing MCB Capital Market was that I could go to an MCB branch and open a stockbroking account without needing to go to Port Louis or Ebenes, where most other stockbroking companies have an office.

Another important reason was that, while buying shares, the investment company will be deducting money from your bank account through direct debit and direct debit has a fixed charge of a few rupees per transaction. The fees can quickly add up if you are doing multiple transactions daily. With the MCB, the account transfer is free – so no additional fees for debiting your account when you buy shares.

I believe the above should be similar for SBM as well.

Getting started

Step 1: You will need a bank account which I am sure most of you already have. If you already have one, it would be wise to create a new bank account so that you can keep your investment-related transactions separate from your main account.

Step 2: Open a CDS(Central Depository and Settlement) account with a listed stockbroker. As of 04 April 2021, there are currently nine listed stockbrokers on that list.

To open a CDS securities account with the stockbroker, you will need to go to their premises with the following documents:

    1. National ID card/ Passport
    2. Recent utility bill (CWA or CEB) that is not more than three months old
    3. Bank account details

While making the application, please make sure to tell them that you want access to the mySem application as well. mySem is an online trading platform created and maintained by the Stock Exchange of Mauritius(SEM). You can use their web application, android app, or ios app to trade seamlessly.
The request for credentials for the mySem platform is submitted only through the stockbroker. Make sure to ask them to add the request for access to mySem while creating your CDS account.

Step 3:  Now the wait begins 😊. It took them nearly a month to create my CDS account, and the mySem credentials were sent to me nearly after two months.

Step 4: Happy trading 😊. Even though you do not have the mySem credentials, you can start trading by directly emailing/calling your stockbroker.