'No golden passports before secrecy clause is removed' – Louis Grech

No passports will be granted to foreigners before the secrecy clause is removed, deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech says.

The government will not issue any passports to foreigners who pay a €650,000 donation before the secrecy clause is removed, deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech said.

Grech was replying to PN whip David Agius who this morning asked the deputy prime minister for assurances over the matter following the revocation of the secrecy clause announced last week.

On Friday, Grech revealed with MaltaToday that government is to remove a confidentiality clause from the Individual Investment Programme, that would have meant that new citizens who buy their passports by paying €650,000 into the scheme, would remain secret.

He said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had agreed with him for the secrecy clause to be removed, and for the names to be published. The revocation followed harsh criticism and botched attempts by the PN to have the secrecy clause removed before the law was approved by Parliament and to have the scheme linked to long-term residency and investment. 

However, Grech warned that no compromise would be reached if the opposition insisted on an obstinate attitude.

In his address to Parliament, Grech also quashed the opposition's criticism over the introduction of the scheme despite being no mention of it in the Labour Party's electoral programme.

The European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto minister said that previous governments inevitably implemented projects and initiatives, which were not included in the electoral programmes.

As parliament discussed the financial estimates of Grech's ministry, the deputy prime minister said that government is planning to hold talks with the opposition on giving the Auditor-General new investigative powers.

"In the past, there were scandalous episodes where the Auditor General's recommendations were completely ignored and no action was taken," Grech said as he argued why the auditor's office needed to be strengthened.

Turning to the budget, Grech said that the 2014 Budget includes 250 measures which directly or indirectly addressed more than 100 proposals in the government's electoral programme.