The government would be considering proposals made by members of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development during a meeting with the Prime Minister this morning.

No commitment was made, however, that the scheme would be changed.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said after the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, none of the criticism made attacked the principles of the scheme. The proposals made were relating to details.

One such proposal was from the GRTU to increase the value of property from €350,000, to €500,000 and to prohibit the new citizens from selling their property after five years. They also proposed that the new citizens should be made to spend time in Malta each year.

The Union Haddiema Maghqudin requested further qualifications as to what the funds from the scheme would be used for.

Dr Muscat said that the meeting was very fruitful and acknowledged the importance of involving the MCESD.

Criticism across the board by the social partners was that they should have been in the discussions about the scheme from the very beginning. The partners also expressed the wish that an agreement on the scheme would be reached between the government and the opposition.

At the beginning of the meeting, Dr Muscat said the Individual Investor Programme would mark the difference between the past and the future creating funds that would go into a sovereign wealth fund that would function independently but on the same lines as the Central Bank.He invited the council to propose terms of reference for the fund.

Dr Muscat said that the programme would be able to generate €1 billion. This by far outstripped the funds Malta would receive from the EU in the next seven years.

He said that during the meaningful discussions with the Opposition, the government moved from its initial position and agreed to significant changes.

But the Opposition did not agree with the compromise position and would have to shoulder responsibility for that.

Dr Muscat said the government could either make this a workable programme now or wait until other countries went down the same line and followed suit later.

“We want to be leaders,” he said.

He noted there were misconceptions and said that any Maltese service provider could currently go to Identity Malta and seek clearance to attract clients without the need to go through Henley and Partners.

It was not true that service providers had to go through a concessionary, he said adding that it was neither true that a concessionary would hold money due to Malta.

It also made no sense to ask for citizenships not to be granted until Parliament debated the legal notices because there was a minimum of six months until any due diligence was completed and the Parliamentary debate would be concluded earlier.

MFSA chairman Joe Bannister and Central Bank governor Josef Bonnici were present for the meeting.

PN reiterates appeal for scheme which does not include sale of citizenship

In a statement this evening, the Nationalist Party reiterated its appeal to the Prime Minister to come up with an investment scheme which did not include the sale of citizenship.

It also appealed to him not to continue damaging the country’s reputation.

The PN said it was now clear that social partners had not been consulted prior to the government introducing the scheme. The way the Prime Minister was reacting showed that he was caught in a state of panic and did not understand the gravity of the situation the country was in.

His mess was seriously damaging the country’s reputation and endangering serious investment the country could attract. The fact that he was comparing the scheme to European funds showed that he lacked a plan or roadmap of how to expand the economy, attract investment and create work, the PN said.

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