‘People’s concern’ sparked retraction of citizenship secrecy clause

Deputy Prime Minister says government has ‘no agenda’: ‘Decision to withdraw confidentiality clause sparked by public’s concern.’

Deputy prime minister Louis Grech interviewed on ONE Radio.
Deputy prime minister Louis Grech interviewed on ONE Radio.

The withdrawal of the secrecy clause from the law regulating the Individual Investor Programme was sparked by the public's concern, deputy prime minister Louis Grech has said.

A decision was taken at the eleventh hour to remove a confidentiality clause, that would have meant that new citizens who buy their passports by paying €650,000 into the scheme, would remain secret.

The clause was one of the Opposition's red lines in the parliamentary debate that adopted amendments to Malta's citizenship laws, and elicited great controversy in the international press.

Speaking on One Radio this morning, Grech said it had been Henley & Partners - the exclusive concessionaire for the IIP - who had suggested the confidentiality clause.

"Based on their reasoning, a confidentiality clause would have added to the success of the programme. But we are a government that listens and our first responsibility is towards the citizens. We listened to the people," he said.

The Nationalist Party has said it was the negative international press and the Opposition's insistence that put Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with his back to the wall.

The government is projecting a €30 million income next year from the IIP, with €15 million to go for the financing of the budget and €15 million to be injected in the national development fund.

The deputy prime minister hailed Budget 2014 as one of "credibility" reflecting a government which "kept its promises".

"This budget was meant to be positive because throughout the campaign we said we would be a positive government," he said.

Grech described the Opposition's criticism as "banal", insisting that the budget's twin goals was to generate economic growth while ensure a fair distribution of wealth.

A budget, he said, which targeted all social sectors of society, helping and supporting vulnerable people improve their quality of life.

Refusing to be dragged into "precise numbers", Grech said over 100 pledges from the electoral manifesto were reflected in the budget.

Despite EU forecasts, Grech reiterated the government would bring down deficit under the 3% Maastricht threshold.

Turning to irregular migration, Grech said Malta would continue pushing for tangible action by the Member States. In December, heads of state and government will meet again in Brussels for a council meeting expected to address short-term operational measures.

"We will continue insisting, pushing for the necessary task forces and concrete measures which leave tangible results. Europe has been passive but with the necessary support we can reach our goals," he said.

Malta as a democracy should never have passed a law so blatantly where a government, without the knowledge of it's citizens grant citizenship in secrecy. I know many many labourites who do not support the citizenship act. And has anyone said what Mintoff would have to say to all this. THe PN has also granted citizenship to thousands of people. That alone does not make them a good spokesman on citizenship. If it is up to them, they will grant every illegal migrant living here citizenship as well.