‘Desperate’ government putting country’s reputation at risk with citizenship sale

Government selling off passports for cheap price, damaging the country’s reputation, former finance minister Tonio Fenech says.

The Opposition would vote in favour of the Individual Investment Programme if the scheme is linked to long-term investment and residence and the secrecy and the minister's discretion are removed, MP Tonio Fenech said. 

"As things stand, it certainly is not a scheme which the opposition will vote for because it does not send the right message on the country's drive to attract investment."

Describing it as a "desperate act by the finance minister to rake in 15 million to boost his budget," Fenech said the scheme created zero jobs.

"Applicants are not even required to reside in Malta, let alone open a company or a fund. It only requires a one time donation with absolutely no ties to long term investment."

Compared to other similar schemes abroad, the IIP falls short on a number of criteria, Fenech said.

Serious investors, Fenech added, look for investment opportunities, however the government was in a rush and claimed that it did not have time to amend the scheme to require mandatory investment or residence. 

"The government is only after making easy money, I've never seen such desperation," Fenech said, adding that the scheme has been rubbished as being a "cheap" way to resolve financial woes by international institutions such as Bloomberg. 

Fenech also pointed out that the consultation meetings with the government were only held on the instance of the Opposition and said that the decision to go for a donation system rather than long term investment "came from the top."

"This donation system would encourage persons fleeing their country to take up the offer, instead of attracting serious investors and strengthening the country's reputation," Fenech said, hitting out at the lack of a clear definition of what kind of investors the country is after. 

He added the scheme remind him of shops which cut their prices drastically during the sales, triggering suspicion on the quality of the products on sale. "This scheme dispels the Prime Minister's declared ambition to make Malta the best. Instead of making Malta the best, you are making Malta the cheapest."

The government was prepared to damage the country's reputation for a meagre 15 million, Fenech said. 

The former finance minister added that the Opposition cannot agree with the scheme if this remains unchanged and went on to underline the PN's suggestions. 

He said the government lacked humanity and the scheme was marred with hypocrisy. "The government is ready to accept 60 or 70 families every year however does not want to host refugees unless they have 650,000 with them. Where is your humanity? You only look at people's bank accounts."

Fenech said the Opposition would be in favour of a scheme which requires mandatory residence over a five-year period and a quota system. 

He shed doubts on the possibility of attracting a number of applicants from Russia which had been one of the reasons why Cyprus faced bankruptcy. "Lets be careful. What we are discussing in this House could put at risk what the country has achieved over the years in the financial services sector." 

Insisting that the Opposition sought consensus, Fenech said that the government had snubbed the PN's recommendations. "We were told that changes could be done after the draft law is approved. Why don't we get it right straight away?  That is why we are against the proposed law," Fenech said. 

The Visa waiver and the double taxation agreement with the US was regained after convincing the US that the country is not a tax haven, however the government was being "naive" and putting all this at risk, Fenech said. 

On Henley's conflict of interest, Fenech said that he was shocked at the government's failure to realise that the company has a clear conflict, while insisting that the screening process should be carried out by the government as previous administrations had always done. 

"Why are we reinventing the wheel? Isn't the government capable of carrying out a serious due diligence. What a shame. We have already witnessed the government's failure in this with the Shiv Nair saga," Fenech said.

While acknowledging that secrecy makes the scheme more attractive to applicants, Fenech said that there is much more than attracting big quantities of applicants in the scheme, adding that this could put the country's reputation at risk. 

"Why should any serious investor want to keep the investment and citizenship secret?" Fenech asked. 

a few minutes later, tempers flared as former health minister Joe Cassar accused the government of attempting to bulldoze over the opposition and the rest of the country by approving the draft law hastily before the Budget vote. 

"This is the beginning of your end," Cassar warned, to the evident displeasure of the government MPs. 

At this rate ahjar ikollna lil Dr Cassola spokesman ghal ekonomija tal-PN: jghid anqas hmerijiet minn Tonio.
Milli jidher mhemm prospett t' arloggi minn dil-bicca xoghol ghal Tonio. Kif ighhidu l-Inglizi: Empty vessels make most sound.
To actually receive thrashings by the people and within your own party for what you and still believe you can stand up and say something remotely credible evidences the gall of this individual.
Tonio if the scheme is wrong why are prominent PN members defending in court the other company who wants to sell the scheme? Alice in Wonderland living in Cuckoo land!
iddissprat int żgur Sur Tonio, wara li l -Ministru tak lezzjoni dwar kif ikun Budget bis-serjata' Fejn fi żmienhek ħadd ma kien jagħti kas xi tgħid fil-budget għax kulħadd kien jaf li jekk tħabbar xi ħaġa tajba l-għada issib raġuni l-għaliex ma tistax iżżom il-wegħda, u xi ħaġa ħażina kienet titħabbar ġimgħat wara l budget. Il-bieraħ kulħadd semgħu lil Dr. Scicluna għax minkejja li ż-żminijiet għadhom diffiċli xorta budget għal ġid tal=ħafna ħareġ bih mhux għal ġid tal ftit il-magħżula bħal fi żmienek. Komplu hudu il-mediċina kontra l-għatxtu li qed jittrabbilkom fl-istonku, dik m'ihiex out of stock
Luke Camilleri
INTKOM IDDISPRATI ghax li ha jithol "GHALINA ILKOLL" u mhux jintefqu fuq ONORARJI minn that ghal Kabinet bit-talent limitat li kien dawwar lillu innifsu bih Dr. Lawrence Gonzi! ~~~~~~ U anki hi kien jaf li kellu talent limitat u ma kellhux minn fejn jghazel il-Ministri! ~~~~~~~ OQGHODU HEMM U TPAXXEW BIT-TALENTI BLA LIMITU U BL-GHAQAL TA' GVERN LABURISTA !
Mr.Fenech: you and your PN have put Malta on reputable risk through your yearly increase deficit and uncontrollable debt. I believe by now we would be in serious trouble with the EU if you have presented this year's budget. PN political hypocrisy never stops to amaze me.
Tonio, perhaps if you weren't such an incompetent finance minister Malta would be in much better fiscal shape than you left it. For you and your party easy money meant, "Just borrow more." Your party left the nation with a 6 billion euro debt and a resultant 148 million euro per annum debt servicing. If you and your PN lot had taken bold measures and balanced the odd budget and rectified your wanton and out of control spending the present finance minister would have had an easier time.
Imma verament ma nafx il-ghala lil dan il-bniedem il-gazzetti ma jincensurawhx darba ghal dejjem. Mella ghajjarna cwiec, qalilna li ra lil Madonna tibki, qalilna li ma jistax ikun li jorhos id dawl u lilma, qalilna li tad dawl u lilma Alice in Wonderland, jammirawh in-nisa u jtuh larloggi bhala rigal, qalilna li il-powerstation tal-gass ma jistax ikun issir u fdaqshekk qasir zmien, issa sa ftit jiem ilu il-partit tieghu qalilna li inehhu il-passaporti lil kull min jixtrih u qalulu li ma jistax jamila u issa dan Tonio qed jghid li tajba imma mhux kif inhi. Imma Malta Today tistaw ma ggibux izjed paprati ta dan ir-ragel ghax kif nara wiccu tinqeridli il gurnata.
What's wrong that the government boost the budget with €15,000? This government does has a different attitude from the PN. Any Maltese citizen can opt to live else were in the world same for people who buy the citizenship. recently I browsed and found that the company promoting our citizenship is also promoting citizenship in USA,UK,Monaco,Austria, Switzerland, Croatia Portugal.No one ever mentioned these countries.I thought that this was an Alice in Wonderland of our Joseph. The Pn is playing the game of scaring people,but they are well known for this.You need to change Tonio !!!!
How pathetic it is of Mr Tonio Fenech to compare the granting of 60 or 70 successful IIP citizenships to the influx of the illegal immigrants. If during his tenure as Minister of Finance this was his line of reasoning then it is no wonder that Malta accumulated eight billion euro in debt. Mr Fenech also said that to vote in favour of the scheme one of the conditions is the removal of the "minister's discretion". One here asks at whose discretion should it be? At the discretion of some chairman and his advisor who have a conflict of interest and some CEO jotting notes on creased paper as minutes? Malta went through such an experience in the recent past.
Sur Toni Hanqa ta` hmar qatt ma telghet is-sema.
L-gheneb qares dejjem jghidu l-hmerijiet, negattivi ad nauseam.
'Risk, biza, lost its soul,' and other negative buzz words are the only thing Simon and his ex ministers can come with? They have lost the plot...and, by the way, is it true that Tonio Fenech was Henley;s representative in Malta before the devastating elections of 2013?
Tbezzghu bill-BABAW ippruvajtuh fir-referendum dwar id-divorzju. U ippruvajtuh fuq il-pjan tal-energija tal-partit laburista , li tinbena power station tahdem bil-gas u b'hekk jorhsu l-kontijiet tad-dawl u ilma, sa kontu ghidtu li t-tankijiet tal-Gas jistghu jispolodu u addio Marsaxlokk u Birzebbugia ! Issa tridu tbezzghu fuq dan il-programm li jgib miljuni ta' ewros lejn pajjizna, flok linjigu ntaxxati aktar il-poplun Malti u Ghawdxi !!!!