Malta residency visa: one reform at a time | Alex Muscat

Our nations’ economic success must be sustainable. This can only happen if we constantly revise our programmes, despite them doing well, in order to update them to today’s realities, to implement constructive feedback and to always seek the best interest of our citizens

Protecting the interests of Maltese and Gozitan citizens is always at the heart of what we do. The existing Malta Residency Visa Programme (MRVP), in force since 2016, has been one of Malta’s successful initiatives in terms of foreign direct investment, introduced by the government as a means to develop further the country’s human capital and attract business leaders, while generating a surplus in public finances. To this effect, we have just launched a newly revamped Malta Permanent Residence Program (MPRP) that will further seek to create more investment for all to benefit.

The changes are far more than cosmetic or a matter of nomenclature. The programme had been in place since 2016 and is separate to the previous Individual Investment Programme, although it has been one of Malta’s successful initiatives in terms of foreign direct investment. It was introduced by the government to further develop the country’s human capital and attract business leaders, while generating a surplus in public finances. This surplus has turned out to be priceless during unprecedented times like these.

To date, the contribution to the government’s consolidated fund is €24,250,000. An economic impact study was conducted that assesses the impact of the MRVP on the Maltese economy between 2017 and 2019. The programme generated a one-off injection of financial capital of almost €50 million of which 40% was registered in 2020. The Programme generated human capital estimated at €5.9m in knowledge-economy and other high skills sectors in 2019 and directly created 136 jobs. When considering all multiplier effects, 290 jobs were created in total, predominantly in the finance and ICT sectors.

The Programme offers third country nationals a chance at having a second residency in Malta. Individuals and families often look at having a second residency in a safe and stable country where they can settle and reside due to economic and political upheaval in their country of origin. Malta competes with some 20 European residency-by-investment programmes, all contributing towards a global movement of increased mobility.

To benefit, applicants are to satisfy several criteria. To be eligible for residency under the new programme, applicants must rent a property in Malta costing not less than €12,000 a year or €10,000 a year if the property is situated either in Gozo or in the southern part of Malta. Alternatively, applicants can also purchase a property for a minimum value of €300,000 in the south of Malta or in Gozo or €350,000 in any other location on the island.

The new Programme sees a slight rise in property purchase price that reflects the market, with due consideration to any possible negative market impact. It also introduces a new donation to a charity, chosen by the investors themselves, the benefits of foreign direct investment more tangible to our community.

Safeguarding Maltese and Gozitan citizens’ interests does not mean that we focus solely on the financial benefits. On the contrary, the Agency is constantly striving to fine-tune its rigorous scrutiny via a four-tier due diligence process. We only want persons and families of repute to be attracted to the Programme, which is why we conduct rigorous checks on their source of wealth and funds. The Agency boasts of a strong team of professionals trained in auditing, compliance and anti-money laundering. Outsourced due diligence on every family is commissioned to reputable international companies to ensure verification of all information is also done in each of the family’s country of residence.

Our nations’ economic success must be sustainable. This can only happen if we constantly revise our programmes, despite them doing well, in order to update them to today’s realities, to implement constructive feedback and to always seek the best interest of our citizens. Our commitment towards such economic sustainability does not stop on paper or on a number of uttered buzz-words, but is being implemented in practice, one reform at a time.

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