An Opposition proposal to publish the names of foreigners buying a Maltese passport in a separate list has been shot down by the government.

PN MP Karol Aquilina floated the idea in parliament on Monday, during a debate on amendments to the Citizenship Act at committee stage.

His proposal was defeated, with Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship Alex Muscat insisting that government’s legal advice was against having separate lists.

Instead, the names of all those acquiring Maltese citizenship will continue to be published as part of a single list containing hundreds of names of people who have acquired citizenship through various means, from naturalisation and registration to IIP applications.

Aquilina explained that his proposal was meant to increase the level of transparency and public scrutiny.

The Opposition proposed an added level of scrutiny through the publication of the names of all foreigners at application stage, at regular three-month intervals – April 1, July 1, October 1 and January 1. The same step would be repeated for successful applicants, regardless of the manner in which they would be getting citizenship.

In both cases, there would be separate lists according to type of applications received. Aquilina noted that until 2013, names were published with this sort of distinction in place. That system was scrapped when the citizenship scheme was introduced.

The amendments also called for the publication of a separate list of all successful passport scheme applicants since its launch in 2014, by not later than the end of this year.

However, the proposal was defeated, with junior minister Muscat saying that the publication of names in the current format would be dealt with through a legal notice. He added that the government would also be publishing the names of those who had been stripped of their Maltese citizenship.

Another Opposition proposal, to ensure a report outlining reasons why passport applicants had been refused citizenship is tabled in parliament, was also defeated.   

Muscat remarked that there could be circumstances in which the dissemination of such information might go against national interest.

Parliament is currently debating revised terms for a new citizenship scheme, which must be approved by parliament before coming into force.

Under the new proposed scheme, applicants who invest €750,000 will be able to apply for a Maltese passport after living in Malta for one year, while those who fork out €600,000 will be eligible after spending three years living in the country. 

Moreover, the minimum value of the property purchased by the application will double to €700,000 from the existing €350,000, while a €10,000 philanthropic donation will be mandatory. 

 

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