Sihem Nemsia presents the main lines of the draft Exchange Code

PayPal, Crypto and foreign currency account: Sihem Nemsia presents the main lines of the draft Exchange Code

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The revision of the legislation in force in economic matters, in particular financial and monetary matters, has continued to be mentioned for several months. It is in this sense that a ministerial council recently approved a draft amendment to the Foreign Exchange Code. What are the main new features?

Speaking on March 18, 2024 during “Expresso” by Wassim Ben Larbi on Express Fm on this subject, the Minister of Finance, Sihem Nemsia indicated that the draft Foreign Exchange Code aimed to meet the expectations of investors, young people and any entity concerned by this sector. She clarified that it was a text proposed to revise the law in force dating from 1976, i.e. 48 years ago. She called it a legislative revolution. She assured that the text was developed after consultation with several entities including Utica, start-ups and experts and aimed to resolve several current issues.

The notion of residence and resident in foreign exchange matters represents the fundamental rule in this sector. It has been revised. Residence is granted for natural persons and for legal persons, namely companies… In the current system, the natural person is considered resident only after having spent two years abroad… This period has been lowered to be fixed at 130 days… He must have spent this period continuously or discontinuously… He must have carried out an activity abroad during this period (contract for the provision of services or work) “, she said.

As for non-resident companies, it must be a company or company whose head office is located abroad or based in Tunisia, but considered non-resident due to its activity. . Concerning this last category, the Minister of Finance mentioned the examples of offshore companies, totally exporting or engaged in international trade. These are economic structures considered non-resident by law.

Sihem Nemsia affirmed that the draft Foreign Exchange Code implemented the principle of freedom. It has put in place an authorization system for certain exceptions. While preserving the Tunisian dinar, the text, according to her, takes into consideration technological developments and will facilitate digital transactions.

As for foreign investments, the bill established the principle of total freedom. He removed the authorization from the Central Bank of Tunisia… This is very important… Foreign investors benefit from total freedom and also have the possibility of freely transferring all of the gains made by their investments or income resulting from the liquidation of their investments… They can transfer this money in its entirety and with complete freedom… Foreign investors will also benefit from another measure… They are free to acquire bonds issued by the State or to other companies… There was a cap of 20% of the bonds issued. The project gives foreign investors the opportunity to acquire all of it “, she added.

As for investments made by Tunisians and residents, Sihem Nemsia explained that companies resident in Tunisia will also benefit from the principle of freedom in terms of foreign transactions. The project puts in place certain criteria in order to benefit from this. These companies will have the possibility of contracting loans abroad freely and without limits. As for companies investing in Tunisia, they will have the possibility of converting their earnings into foreign currency and depositing them in foreign currency accounts with Tunisian banks, the same measure as that granted to foreign companies investing in Tunisia.

We have also authorized companies whose economic activity justifies it to benefit from a foreign currency account… The project will establish the status of approved foreign exchange operator. This is a quality that legal entities whose situation is in order in tax, social and customs matters will be able to obtain… They will be free to transfer currency abroad as part of their investments… The project proposes a series of incentive measures for legal and natural persons “, she continued.

Sihem Nemsia explained that the draft Foreign Exchange Code included measures targeting start-ups and freelancers. She assured that they were consulted during the development of this code in order to resolve the problems they faced. The minister indicated that the major difficulty often mentioned was the impossibility of having access to a foreign currency account in order to collect their earnings made abroad. The draft code offers the possibility of benefiting from it or opening an account in convertible dinar. Start-ups and freelancers will be able to use their earnings to cover their expenses abroad.

We have allowed individuals and companies to open payment accounts… They will be able to use electronic payment platforms such as PayPal… They have problems in collecting revenue, converting it and using it online. foreign… We have taken these difficulties into consideration… I would like to indicate that we are proposing the granting of the possibility of opening accounts abroad in order to cover the costs of training, education or integration of a employment abroad… Companies and individuals concluding service provision agreements with foreign companies will have the possibility of opening a foreign bank account in the country where they will carry out their activities “, did she say.

Sihem Nemsia raised the issue of crypto-assets. She affirmed that the draft Foreign Exchange Code addressed the matter. The text authorizes transactions at this level for the actors concerned. Crypto-assets will be subject to a declaration system with the Central Bank of Tunisia from an amount subsequently set by decree. The gains made from the conversion of these crypto-assets into currency must be returned. She assured that transactions in crypto-assets will be authorized following the adoption of the draft Foreign Exchange Code.

The Minister of Finance also indicated that the manual exchange system has been revised to allow legal entities to open exchange offices. They will be created within the framework of a limited company. As for exchange offices created by individuals, they can be transformed into legal entities during the next three years. Sihem Nemsia also explained that the draft Foreign Exchange Code proposed a revision of penalties and sanctions. It includes a reduction in prison sentences. The penalty was reduced from five to three years in prison for offenses linked to non-repatriation of income earned abroad, non-declaration of income abroad, non-declaration of amounts in foreign currency or even trade. illegal currency. She recalled that the conclusion of a conciliation agreement with the authorities concerned removed the prison sentence.

Thus and to conclude, the draft Exchange Code establishes total freedom for foreign investments since they will no longer depend on the authorization of the Central Bank of Tunisia. It allows natural and legal persons whose economic activity justifies it to open a foreign currency account. The text will ultimately authorize the use of PayPal, but only for certain categories of people.

Sofiene Ghoubantini

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