An agency that invests in the community | Alex Muscat

The old IIP raised €1.7 billion. The results can be seen everywhere, in the way funds have been administered by the National Development and Social Fund

Citizenship Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat (right)
Citizenship Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat (right)

It is important that government provides services in the most efficient manner and an approach that has paid off is the setting up of agencies with a distinct remit. One of these success stories is Aġenzija Komunità Malta. It is responsible for administering all Maltese citizenship-related matters.

This includes accepting and processing applications for the acquisition of Maltese citizenship by birth, by registration, by naturalisation through long term residence, for exceptional services by merit, and for exceptional services by direct investment in Malta. It has a duty to carry out its work with due diligence but is committed to eradicating unnecessary red tape and making good use of digital technology to speed up processes.

The Agency has a new Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Mizzi, who has considerable experience working in the Public Service. His career in citizenship and immigration began in the early 1990s. When Malta joined the European Union he was directly involved in the implementation of directives and processes concerning legal migration. He has been responsible for policies related to visas and has provided his wisdom on amendments concerning citizenship law. I have no doubt Mr Mizzi will perform strongly in his new role. The Agency is in a safe pair of hands.

One of the roles of Aġenzija Komunità Malta is overseeing the residency regulations that may lead to citizenship, the follow-on initiative from the Individual Investor Programme (IIP). These residents make a contribution to Malta of up to €750,000 plus additional sums for dependents. Extensive checks are carried out on applicants, involving police and international anti-crime bodies, to guard against criminality such as money laundering.

The European Union welcomes about two thirds of a million new citizens each year, most of whom experience few checks. By contrast, Malta’s initiative is capped at 400 applicants a year, all of whom are subject to the toughest due diligence.

The investment generated from this initiative has been of huge benefit to the country. The old IIP raised €1.7 billion. The results can be seen everywhere, in the way funds have been administered by the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF).

€60 million is being spent on social housing, giving families accommodation in brand new and rejuvenated blocks. Mater Dei gained an investment of nearly €1m to upgrade its two catheterisation suites, and another €1.5 million are directed towards the purchase of a CT Scanner at St Vincent De Paule Hospital.

Around €10m is being pumped into health centres and €5m was allocated to Puttinu Cares to purchase a new property in central London to benefit the families of patients being treated there. An investment of €8 million into a new state of the art palliative centre administered by Hospice Malta. In preparation of Maltese athletes for the 2023 Games for Small European States, NDSF has also invested €5 million towards this aim.

The list goes on with €1.5 million for Caritas, a further €1.5 million invested in artistic heritage and €4.5 million for the new urban spaces that will act as green lungs in built-up localities.

Somebody moving into a smart modern flat or getting better health care wouldn’t necessarily make the link between the investment of new citizens and their improved personal experience, but it is reassuring to know that the wheels of government are turning unhindered. Aġenzija Komunità Malta is doing its work quietly without fanfare but we are all the better off for what it achieves.