Citizenship has ‘constitutional implications’, consensus is required – Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil reiterates calls for consensus over the Individual Investor Programme.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil

In a speech marked by shouts from both sides of the House, with side comments passing between the two leaders, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil reiterated his call for consensus to be reached on the citizenship scheme.

The House is this evening debating the financial estimates of the Office of the Prime Minister.

During his intervention, Busuttil described the local and international reaction to the government's scheme to sell passports as "phenomenally negative".

"The phenomenal negative reaction was not limited to our shores. International headlines described the citizenship scheme as scandalous. Our country was ridiculed," he said.

"The government must now address the damage our country's reputation has suffered... even at EU level. This scheme should be stopped and reviewed."

The Opposition leader argued that even though a country was sovereign over citizenship issues, yet the damage to the country's reputation had been too much.

Busuttil insisted that despite the Opposition "objected in principle" to the scheme, yet it wanted to reach a consensus or compromise.

"Such an issue desires consensus from both sides. Citizenship has constitutional implications, even though it is regulated by law. But the concept is still constitutional and this alone requires consensus," Busuttil said.

Welcome the government's U-turn on the secrecy clause, the PN leader said this still required amendments to the law.

"A simple amendment to the legal notice is not enough. This requires a change in the law or else it would create a conflict in the legal provision," he said.

He insisted that the Nationalist Opposition was extending its "hand of cooperation", hoping that consensus would be reached on the scheme.

Busuttil said the Opposition was also read to seek on consensus on public holidays, welcoming President George Abela's proposal to have Independence Day and Republic Day as Malta's twin national days.

"Another case we wish to reach consensus on is the party financing law. But at the same time, how can government expect our cooperation when it carries out obscenities such as passing land to the Labour Party?" Busuttil said.

He noted that it had been very easy for the Prime Minister to cede the case against the political party. "Joseph Muscat vs Joseph Muscat. It wasn't so difficult for you to cede the case, wasn't it?" Busuttil told Muscat.

He also set much in store in criticizing the leadership of the civil service, following the appointment of Mario Cutajar as principal permanent secretary and head of civil services. Busuttil said that while he had nothing against Cutajar having been a Labour activist, yet the appointment contrasted with previous administrations' decisions to keep the civil service devoid of political allegiances.

"The civil service was traditionally headed by neutral persons. And eight months later we see the result of this decision: persons who are preferred over others, just because they are close to the leadership. Even Labourites are suffering from this," he said.

Busuttil went on to express solidarity with civil workers who were being discriminated against.

Turning to the economy, the Opposition leader said that the European Commission's reaction to government's draft budgetary plan had been in synch to the Opposition's reaction.

According to the Commission, there was a risk that the draft budgetary plan would not fulfill the recommendations of the excessive deficit procedure. It also noted that the plan presented did not specify in detail the measures that underpin the measures for 2014, thus not complying with obligations of EU law.

"This is serious because the Commission's report is different from what government told this House. And it confirms our assertion of a dishonest budget: how much will the measures cost and who will pay for them?"

Can he make up his mind, one moment he threatens repealing the law next moment he wants consensus. What the muck is this guy about? I do not blame him, 1.Tonio Fenech hid that most revealing letter praising Henley and Partners 2. Francis Zammit Dimech and Metsola destroyed his arguments with their involvement, Profs Fenech saying there is nothing wrong in giving citizenship to those that deserve it,Demarco also had his reservations, what else can go wrong for Simon on this issue. Let's not forget Jason's Azzopardi puerile remarks about terrorists ad the Mafia.
@Guzep: Why do you write with such ridiculous notions. Since when is 4% of € 650,000, including their expenses, amount to laughing all the way to the Banks. Where is the other 94% of the bag going - for you to hold - even though you are not deserving of this since you are passionately attached to a corrupt party who has been trashed by the People of Malta and who have rendered each one of us debitary to the tune of over €20,000 per child, woman and man of these Islands with the € 6 billion debt they accumulated in 25 years. Such is your party's credibility and such is the legacy they left us with - a Damocles Sword round every child that is born in Malta and Gozo.
Simon Busuttil mentioned discrimination. I know two friends of mine who have in their possession a written judgement given the the then Commission for Injustices saying that both of them had suffered discrimination. Yet the PN in Government failed to give them compensation for the discrimination they had suffered. They are still seeking redress up to this very time. One hope that the present Govt. will appoint a Commission to hear such cases in the immediate future.
@guzep. The real reason why the Opposition is opposing the citizenship Scheme is because it wants to put spokes in the wheel. There will be other instances, we will have a great deal of them during this legislation, where the Opposition will obfuscate matters,talk crap and try to impede the government. PL has a 9 seat majority, just carry on with the good work!
(1) "International headlines described the citizenship scheme as scandalous." WOW! Is that right, right wing, or (aided, abetted and spurred on, zealous right wing media? (2)"with previous administrations' decisions to keep the civil service devoid of political allegiances." This guy is making it so obvious he was living in Brussels CUCKOO land most of the past years. No wonder he accepted the fill-in job of PN leader. (3) "a dishonest budget", I wonder what Xmun would describe his colleague's consistently-missing-targets budgets presented over the past 10/12 years; "hoodwinking the electorate"?
Busuttil is a puny pawn in the hands of much bigger fish and the people know it. He barks but has no clout. He can just lie basking in the sun and stop meddling where he has no competence. The people threw him out in March and they still do now. So stop wasting our time.
Too bad we do not have the Option to Impeach because this would be an option the opposition would be fighting for. This Passport for Sale Scheme is putting a damper on Maltese trust from here on. Like I said before, the only people making real money are Henley and Pardners who will be laughing all the wayto the bank with every sale they make while they leave us holding the bag.
Priscilla Darmenia
Simon, let us get on with our lives. - The law is now passed and you had your chance to oppose it. – You had your chance to name the advisors that advised you on it and you did not. – On the other hand the government mentioned the Attorney General; the University Dean and Profs Refalo (who was your and your colleagues tutor) and all these said that you are talking rubbish. – Now am I to believe you and the “unknown” advisors or believe the three well known and respected lawyers above mentioned?