The ‘Citizenship for Sale’ scheme debate is close to boiling point with the latest address in the Maltese Parliament by the Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil. Despite the fact that people in Malta still cannot come to their own unbiased decision on the matter without wheeling out political party fanaticism, I am still perplexed as to how many cannot understand how awkward and shifty it is for the government to want to keep the names o
f would-be-investors a national secret.
I had already written about this scheme almost a month ago, where I compared this proposed move to those currently used in Austria and Cyprus. I reiterate my position as being against it and in favour of the alternative that is actually used by other EU countries and which has the potential to contribute to the growth of Malta. While I am sure many people will accuse me of being against economic development, I just fail to grasp the idea of how €650,000 (minus commission by Henley and Partners etc etc) will be of any benefit in the long term when compared to a scheme which binds would-be-applicants to long term investment over a fixed period of time.
In any case, I have often pondered about the government’s intent to keep the identity of these investors secret. When foreigners apply and receive Maltese citizenship either through marriage or naturalisation, their names are published in the Government Gazette. An example of this can be found here –> Government Gazette, October 23, 2009 where one may scroll down to page 8 and find a list of applicants up until the date of publication. This has been common practice for years and required by law under the Maltese Citizenship Act (unless this will be now updated).
Personally, the only reason people keep secrets in any situation is because they want to hide something. This is something which I attribute to real life situations and is arbitrary to issues of politics, economy and partisanism. Everyone has kept something hidden from their family, friends or better halves from fear of retribution or being reprimanded.
At the end of the day, the majority of people (71% of respondents and 72% of Labour supporters according to a MaltaToday survey) want to know who these investors are. Why is the government so determined to not give the majority of people what they want – transparency?