Updated | Simon Busuttil slams government's 'fake' consultation on IIP

PN leader Simon Busuttil meets MCESD members to explain Opposition's objections to citizenship scheme. • Government says Busuttil's comments are 'surprising'.

Last updated at 8:03pm to add government's reaction

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil today met representatives of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) to explain the Nationalist Party’s objections to the controversial citizenship scheme.

Slamming the government's claims of having held a wide consultation process with all stakeholders as "fake," Busuttil said that the PN insisted to hold meetings with civil society representatives to explain its objections and listen to the social partner's reaction.

Pointing out that the majority of MCESD representatives had not been consulted, Busuttil said that the PN’s objections were based on the principle of selling citizenship, the ridicule and damage the scheme was attracting and the conditions of the revamped scheme. 

Last month the government launched a revamped citizenship scheme which will require wealthy foreigners to invest at least €1.15 million in order to obtain a Maltese passport. Applicants must also invest in property and government bonds and shares before being granted citizenship.

But in a brief reaction, the government said describing the consultation as fake was "surprising".

"Busuttil himself had declared that both sides had been engaged in discussions and that an agreement would soon be reached," the OPM said, adding the comments had been carried out on 15 December.

"The truth is that there were long hours of consultation and the government listened and understood the citizens' position. The citizens wanted an innovative programme, transparent and with a stronger bond between the individual and the country."

The government said the changes were implemented and together with the MFSA and constituted bodies, a new programme was developed. The new programme, it insisted, would attract high net worth individuals.

"Our objection is not about how much it is sold for but that it must not be be sold in the first place," the Opposition leader however insisted. 

Stressing that the PN was consistent in its opposition to the scheme, Busuttil said that his party had objected to the scheme before and after it was approved by Parliament in November. He added that upon the publication of the scheme's second draft on Christmas Eve "the government embarked on a propaganda campaign bankrolled by the tax payer to convince the Maltese people and not foreigners."

He said that in the coming days the opposition would "challenge" the legal notice in Parliament by presenting a motion to attack the legal notice's validity "to block the notice and stop the scheme."

The PN leader added that the PN would also step up the pressure through the European Parliament debate on the scheme to be held next week.

At the end of the two-hour meeting, Busuttil said that the meeting was not held to impose the opposition's position on the MCESD members but to get the PN's message through  and listen to their concerns. 

"There are other ways through which government can attract investment and achieve economic growth," Busuttil said. 

He said the opposition was seeking legitimate measures in Parliament to challenge the lgal notive and although Busuttil stressed that the PN would deal with the issue cautiously he  did not exclude proposing an abrogative referendum to repeal the scheme.

"We hope that common sense prevails and expect the government to either scrap the scheme or amend it to ensure that the scheme is one of investment," busuttil said.

Busuttil also noted that he would be holding two further meetings with MCESD later this week. Moreover the prime minister will be meeting MCESD members on Friday

Dr.Busuttil sounds more and more like a broken record on this issue.He might as well shut up because his agenda is very clear.Disrupt in any means possible the government's programme.
The truth is that PN is opposing the scheme because it will bring huge financial benefits to the state's coffers. PN will endeavour to put spokes in the wheel but will ultimately fail.
Let me remind Mr. Busuttil that Malta already offers the Global Residence Programme for non-EU nationals and appeals not only to those who actually want to live in Malta but also to those from countries that he is so afraid off like China and South Africa where political and economic stability may be a concern. Residents and nationals of such countries often like to have a 'getaway' if life becomes too difficult in their own county. The Global Residence Programme also appeals to people who have a passport that is difficult to travel on. When they obtain residency they can then apply for a Schengen visa that will allow them to travel freely within Europe without further authorisation for up to six months of every calenda year. So basically what is the PNs problem with the IIP? I am guessing the money that will be put into the Maltese economy is their BIG Problem and nothing else.
David Bongailas
"The ridicule and damage hhe scheme was attracting"........interesting statement indeed. Apart from a couple of articles in foreign newspapers questioning the scheme as well as a couple of questions raised in the EP, i fail to see all this ridicule that Busutill is talking about. On the contrary, it has been Busutill who never stopped talking about the scheme ever since the government presented it's budget last november. Could it be because the PN and it's allies know all to well that the budget battle was lost and that the government had defeated them again on all levels that a distraction was needed ? Again busutill talks about the "bad attention" the scheme is receiving and that this is unwanted attention when at the end of the day he is the one mentioning the scheme every 5 seconds.
The only FAKE thing is Busuttil's leadership qualities. He is as fake as the rest of his GONZIPN team he deputized for just 9 months ago. Fake are the promises, fake are the good looks of an angel when the whole charade is more a devil in disguise, fake are his assertions that he was not consulted but even worse than fake are the lies he inherited and adopted from his Master's Voice. In short, every word he utters is a fake from start to finish.
Nibqa skantata (forsi m'ghandiex ghalfejn) bl-ipokrezija bla limitu tal-PN. Qed jaghmlu kampanja fuq l-issue tac-cittadinanza meta dawn huma l-istess nies li bieghu l-art, is-sema u l-bahar ta' pajjizna. Ahseb ftit fil-kumpanniji li bieghu u tkun taf x'qed infisser. U fejn marru dawn il-flus? Le mhux f'investiment imma biex taparsi jaghmlu tajjeb ghad-dejn ta' pajjizna u biex Gonzipn jipprova jahbi ftit il-problemi fil-finanzi publici.
Well Simon just tell us humble citizens the number of citizenships granted by the PN in its last 2 years in office and the total amount of investment these citizens gave the island! Over 1000 foreigners were granted citizenship and total investments - zilg!!!
Simn "Buzullotti" said the negotiations between the government and the opposition were " a fake ". Did Simon Busttil then take part in those discussions knowing they were fake ? Why had he said that they were positive and agreement could be reached before the negotiations had stopped ??? What are definitely FAKE , are the supposed reasons why the PN keeps saying "NO" !
I totally agree with Simon Busuttil. Joseph Muscat excels in misleading the nation.....he is fake in many ways and these "consultations@ were just playing to the public. Good luck when facing the European Parliament...this Government does not have a solid leg to stand on. More shame for our country.
Get a life Simon. YOU sold all Malta and Maltese citizens lock stock and barrel to the EUSSR Simon. HYPOCRITE.
"Stressing that the PN was consistent in its opposition to the scheme, Busuttil said that his party had objected to the scheme before and after it was approved by Parliament in November." I would be politically correct and liable to libel if I say that Simon has lost his marbles, because why was he having talks. This guy is really a strange political beast with no consistancy at all in what he says and does. What an S.