Updated | ‘Citizenship is priceless’ - Simon Busuttil

Opposition calls on the government to publish the full contract with concessionaire Henley & Partners, promoting government’s 'citizenship by investment'scheme.

The Opposition leader Simon Busuttil today said the PN would pull out all stops to prevent the country from selling citizenships cheaply and called on the government to publish the full contract with concessionaire Henley & Partners, who have been exclusively contracted to promote government's 'citizenship by investment' scheme.

Busuttil said the government's haste and the proposed scheme's lack of transparency "stinks" and warned that the opposition would never vote for a scheme which does not require applicants to reside and invest money in Malta.  

"In life, some things cannot be purchased, among them our citizenship. The Maltese citizenship does not have a price and is not for sale. The Nationalist Party is against the proposed law because we believe that our citizenship should never be sold. This is not an investment programme but a citizenship for sale scheme, This is unacceptable."

"I fear that the government is introducing this scheme in such haste to make a quick buck that it cannot understand the value of our citizenship. Citizenship in invaluable," he said, adding that citizenship is priceless because there is a long-lasting link, genetic, historic, emotional and physical, between the country and the individual.

Citizenship is also an act of love and pride, Busuttil added, pointing out that the government could not understand the notion of a nation which goes beyond the collective presence of persons, but defines the history of a people.

Claiming that the Labour government was selling citizenship "at a discounted rate," Busuttil said that the scheme disrespected the persons who toiled hard to create the Maltese nation, including former prime ministers Dom Mintoff, Gorg Borg Olivier and Eddie Fenech Adami.

He also accused the government of putting sovereignty up for sale by allowing a private company, Henley & Partners, to process applications. Moreover, he said that it was "deeply ironic that Labour is now selling an EU passport after vehemently opposing membership."

Addressing the empty government benches, bar five MPs, he pointed out that the government arrogantly snubbed the discussion because it thought that it "can bulldoze over everyone thanks to its nine seat majority."

Busuttil added that the Opposition was prepared to discuss amendments to the scheme, however the government had shut its doors and did not show any willingness to discuss it.  

Listing the reasons why the opposition was against the scheme, Busuttil said that the scheme was unique in Europe and was analogous to that of tax havens in the Caribbean. Yet, even these countries did not go as far as allowing a private company to process applications, Busuttil noted.

Echoing the Chamber of Advocates' statement issued today, Busuttil warned the home affairs minister that the scheme would cause "serious and irreparable damage to Malta's reputation."

He added that the scheme would also leave serious repercussions with Malta's relationships with EU member states and the US, given that the scheme would grant the right to possible shady applicants to travel to the US without a Visa.

"If this right, which we worked so hard to achieve, is revoked by the US you will only have yourself to blame," the PN leader told home affairs minister Manuel Mallia.   

Reiterating the opposition's criticism in recent weeks, Busuttil said that the PN would only accept a programme which required applicants to have a long-term link to the country, through residence and investment.  

The opposition leader added that the government should insert a quota, and only allow a small number of applications every year, to avoid giving the impression that the country is desperate.

He also hit out at the "shameful" decision to allow Henley & Partners to receive, assess and recommend applications.

"Can you stoop any lower, minister Mallia to dispose of our passport? It is excruciatingly painful to allow a private company to sell our citizenship."

Busuttil also warned that the scheme granted the minister too much power to the minister, which could lead to abuse and corruption. Moreover, the lack of transparency "shed more doubts on the scheme," he said.

"The scheme symbolises the government's haste to sell whatever it can at whatever price," the opposition leader said, adding that the PN was against the scheme because "it stinks"  

The opposition, he said would demand the third treading of the law to take place in the House in order for all MPs to evaluate and analyse the law in detail. 

He also slammed Prime Minister Joseph Muscsat plans to travel to Miami where he will promote the IIP together with representatives from St Kitts & Nevis, Antigua, and the Dominican Republic, all countries that also have their own naturalisation schemes. "It's shameful that the Prime Minister has already planned a visit in Miami before the law is even approved."

He called on government to seek cross-party consensus, however he warned that "if no consensus is found, we will not exclude anything and if we are in government we are prepared to retrieve the scheme and passports issued by this government"

Following Busuttil's speech, PN deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami extended the Opposition's invitation to "sit down around a table and discuss amendments to the law.

While saying that the Opposition was prepared to work together with the government to strenghten the country's financial services sector and attract long-term investment which creates jobs, Fenech Adami called on the government to stop "pigging out if it intends to cut its expenditure."

His comments did not go down well with the government MPs present and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who had just arrived in Parliament, retorted by claiming that Fenech Adami was among the culprits in the waste of resources under the previous administration for accepting the role of Parliamentary Assistant.

To this, Fenech Adami said, "I can assure the Prime Minister that in three years as Parliamentary Assistant I did not earn as much as energy minister Konrad Mizzi's wife earns in one month in her consultancy role at Malta Enterprise."

In his address to the House, Parliamentary Secretary Edward Zammit Lewis accused the Opposition leader of being arrogant and incorrect in stating that citizenship can be revoked by a future government. Zammit Lewis noted that Chapter 188 of the Maltese Law stipulates that citizenships could only be revoked if "the registration or certificate of naturalisation was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact."

In reaction to Busuttil's speech, the government dubbed his address as one of the most negative speeches in Parliamentary history.

"Busuttil might believe that he is damaging the government but he is only damaging the country," the statement said.

The government also accused the leader of the opposition of contradicting himself in saying that he opposed the scheme in principle but would still table amendments.

The government added that it would let "the opposition drown in its negativity while focusing on the creation of wealth and its just distribution."  

This evening, the PN also called on the government to publish the full contract with concessionaire Henley & Partners, who have been exclusively contracted to promote government's citizenship by investment'scheme after the government published extracts of the contract.

The IIP (Individual Investment Programme) will sell Maltese citizenship to applicants and their dependants for €650,000, but Nationalist MP  Jason Azzopardi this week claimed that Henley will be receiving €140,000 for each application. Home affairs minister Manuel Mallia has denied the sum.

Tonight, the Nationalist Party once again asked the government to come clear on whether Henley & Partners were to be given commission besides the contribution option and if this would include payment for due diligence.

The Opposition urged the government to publish the contract in full "in the sake of transparency," and asked what does the contract state about the fast track option for clients who were willing to pay an additional 50%.

"Before the contract is published in full, the people would not know whether Henley & Partners would be earning additional payments from those applying for citizenship, even more so in view of the fact that the government was giving this foreign company an absolute monopoly on the sale of Maltese passports"

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I have no allegiance to any political party because I consider myself neutral when it comes to politics. But selling 35% of Enemalta, selling an interest in Smart City, selling the Airport to an outside vendor, Telemalta, the Drydocks, Mid-Med Bank, Sea Malta, national gaming etc has nothing to do with selling your Nationality to the highest bidder. It is an insult to every Maltese Born Citizen like you and me. Whenever one sells their soul to the devil, there is a price to pay later on and as we all know, the devil will be back to collect. Selling our Nationality and our livelihood to the highest bidder and only to those who can afford it is ludicrous. I urge the PN to fight this proposition of selling our Pride for Money to those who can afford the price. As far as the nine extra seats in Parliament be assured that they will not be there in the next election, not if we as voters have any pride and any say so.
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Taht Simon il-PN falla finanzjarjament u falla ukoll bin-negativizmu tieghu! Ahna flus, hajja ahjar, drittijiet civili, u kontijiet irhas irridu Busutill mhux operetti li huma bla sugu ta xejn. Gerrex kemm tiflah l-investiment halli Muscat ma ikollux xi iqassam: very bad losers and spiteful!
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If "Citizenship" is priceless, SOVEREIGNTY was even much more priceless! And yet Simon Busuttil was one of the protagonists who SOLD Malta's sovereignty to the EU elite !!!!
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Ghalfejn dan ghageb kollu Sur Simon ?? Jista il poplu ikun jaf il verita ?? Smajt lil Dr J Azzopardi ibezza bil mafja russa il bierah Qabel dahhaltuna f EU ghamiltu due diligence fuq kull 500 miljun cittadin Europea li illum jista bid dritt kollu jigi ihabbat il bieb hu ikkolna nifthulu ???? Taf Sur Simon li hafna mill Eastern countries li kienu taht il kappa russa bhal Bulgaria Estonia Lithuania illum mimlijin russi bcittadinanza europea ??? Hu xi nejdu ghall mafjosi sqallin li qedghin bieb hu ghatba li gejjin hu sejrin Mlata jixtru il hwienet ?? Allura ghalfejn dil biza kollha ghax qedghin taraw li dis sistema se dahhal flus fil kaxxa ta Malta ?? Jew ghax hadd minn shabkhom mu se dahal xi commission ??
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Jekk qatt kien hemm bzonn prova li tal-PN hlief hsara ma jaghmlux meta jkunu fl-oppozizzjoni, id-diskors ta' Busuttil huwa bizzejjed biex juri dan. Il-Kap ta' l-oppazizzjoni tant huwa negattiv li issa qieghed jigi jaqa' w jqum kif jitkellem, ukoll jekk l-intenzjonijiet tieghu li jgerrex l-investiment u jfixkel lill-gvern saru tant cari u fil-berah li huma biss in-nazzjonalisti l-horox li mhux jintebhu. Dan huwa sabbottag tad-demokrazzija li taghmel il-hsara fi-berah biex tinstiga reazzjoni u wara toqghod tibki u tilghabha tal-vitma.
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Simon you are PRICELESS ,a gift for the PL,with your negativity and stupidity you are making the PL stronger.thanks.
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Qed jipprova jilghabha tal martri miskin, dan wara is sensiela ta programmi oxxeni u parteggjani ghall ahhar fuq ix xandir ta l stat fejn kienet tispikka il hdura lejn il laburisti. Din ma kienet xejn hlief mossa tal pn biex norman vella jidher tal vittma u il poplu jithassru u biex jidher fuq il media ghax ser johrog bhala MEP mal pn.
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Simon Busutill is fast becoming the Maltese version of Dr No! Even the Times of Malta criticized him for being negative on employment in Malta when figures show that the economy is on the right track with the GDP (which he again criticized )growing to 3.6% in the second quarter: the biggest gain in GDP for about 8 long years! Who wants a Casandra as a leader?
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Yes Dr Busuttil, citizenship is priceless. The airport, the airport runways, Telemalta, the drydocks, Mid-Med Bank, Sea Malta, national gaming etc were also nationally priceless yet your Party's Government sold them all off into foreign ownership -most of them at a devalued price. ALBERT FENECH
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joseph mercieca
This time I am writing in Maltese as it is a note on Maltese history I did for my class when once I was a teacher. It is about citizenship Simon might leran something. Gewwa pajjizna l-principju ta’ cittadinanza u nazzjonalizmu ma kienux jezisti. Ahna dejjem konna pajjiz mahkum mill-barrani li dan barra l-poter li kellu kien jara kif il-kultura tieghu tipperkola fil-hajja Maltija. L-anqas kellna xi entita politika li tghaqqad lill-poplu. L-unika struttur socjali li kellha dan ir-rwol b’mod indirett kienet il-Knisja. Kienet Hi taghtina xi forma ta’ indentita u li kellha l-hila tikkoagula ‘l-fuq poplu Gara izda li waqt ir-risorgiment (il-glieda ghall-ghaqda ta’ l-Italja) Taljan Malta bdiet tilqa’ bosta refugjati politici li bdew jithalltu ma’ l-aqwa familji tal-gzira. Ma ninsewx li klassi gholja ta’ Malta, professjonisti, Knisja, negozjanjti, l-intelligenzja kien jhaddnu kultura Taljana. Fil-fatt fil-qrati fl-universita, laqghat fis-sallotti puliti, gurnali l-lingwa uzata kienet it-Taljan. Dak kollu li kien Malti fosthom il-lingwa kienu meqjusa bhala inferjuri tal-klassijiet il-baxxi u l-lingwa Maltija kienet meqjusa bhala l-lingwa tak-kcina. Il-klassijiet gholjin kienu jqisu lilhom infushom Taljani. Dan is-sens ta’ nazzjonalizmu Taljan kompla s-sahha bir-refugjati u bit-twelid tan-nazzjon Taljan. Ic-ceti gholja Maltin hassew li huma wkoll parti minn dan in-nazzjon il-gdid. Fil-fatt dawn kienu perswazi li d-destin ta’ Malta kien marbut ma’ dak Taljan. L-Inglizi ghajnhom ghokrithom b’din il-mewga ta’ is-sentiment pro Taljan. Ma ninsewx li ghall-kuruna Ngliza Malta kienet kolonja militarmentt u kummercjalment strategikament importanti bhal. Ghalihom kien inkocepebbli li jkun hawn din l-influwenza ta’ nazzjon barra. Konsegwentement fl-1878 waslet Malta Kummissjoni Rjali biex tfassal riformi fic-civil u fl-edukazzjoni. Dak li ha hsieb ir-riformi fl-edukazzjoni kien Patrick Keenan u r-rapport baqa’ msemmi ghalih bhala rapport storiku. Fil-fatt is-suggerimenti ta’ Keenan taw bidu ghall aktar minn erbghin sena ta’ glied politiku fuq liema kultura kellha tiddomina gewwa pajiizna. Ir-riformi ta’ Keenan kienu li fl-iskejjel jitnehha t-Taljan u jigi sostitut bl-Ingliz. Il-fazzjoni pro Taljana rrezenjat mill-Kinsill tal-gvern u fl-1880 gie ffurmat “Il Partito Nazzjonale” (n-Nazzjonalisti tal-llum) biex jiggieled kull riforma li setghet tmur kontra l-interess tal-kultura Taljana. Din il-glieda hija maghrufa bhala il-kwistjoni tal-lingwa. Wiehed irid jifhem li b’Nazzjonalita’ huma kienu jfhmu Nazzjonalita Taljana. Huma kienu jissejjhu irredendisti ghax qatt ma riedu jcedu pulzir la mill-lingwa Taljana u l-anqas mill-kultura Taljana gewwa Malta. Huma ghamlu minn kollox biex ifixklu l-gvern Ingliz. Sfortunatament minn din il-glieda politika iz-zghir ma ha xejn ghaliex, injurant, bil-guh, marid kien u baqa’. Fi zmiem Mussolini n-Nazzjonalisti saru Faxxisti u taw appogg lil Franco fil-gwerra civili Spanjola. Celebri tibqa’ l-headline tal-gazzetta l-poplu “Dhalna Madrid”. Sahanstra kellhom skola bl-isem ta’ Umberto Primo r-re ta’ l-Italja fejn l-uniformi tat-tfal kienet tal-Balilla. Kollox spicca meta fl-1939 faqqghet it-tieni gwerra dinjija u bdew l-ewwel bumbardamenti fuq Malta. Taqbel u ma taqbilx il-gvern Ingliz internaw lejn l-Unganda l-akbar ufficjali gholjin tal-PN. Ghall-Inglizi dawn kienu ta’ periklu ghas-sigurta ta’ Malta. Jien rrrakontajt semplici istorja. Naghlaq b’domanda: In-Nazzjonalisti ghandhom il-legiitimita politika, storika, kulturali u fuq kollox morali biex jassumu r-rwol ta’ difensuri tac-cittadinanza u n-Nazzjonalita Maltija?
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Dear Mr.Busuttil,if our citizenship is priceless,why are we giving it free to illegal migrants?
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Well put Simon - from an EU observer point of view I URGE all Maltese native citizens to read this article VERY CAREFULLY and without political prejudice.....The Maltese are not for sale at any price and so is EU citizenship. National referendum ?? Can somebody call a confidence vote against this insane government.... ?? There must be a LOT of proud Maltese TRUE Labour MP's in parliament that are having their serious doubts by now......
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What a patetic speech we heard this evening from the leader of the opposition. Doesn't this guy realize that priceless is his leadership.