Malta is Chasing Quality Over Numbers
While addressing the Investment Migration Council, Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms, Citizenship and Simplification of Administrative Processes said that “Malta has come a long way since the launch of its citizenship and residency programmes. We set out to position Malta as a market leader, and most importantly we did not fall for low-hanging fruit; we did not go chasing after numbers. We give priority to quality. So we have put in place all the necessary safeguards in order to make sure that we only attract the best talent to our shores”.
Julia Farrugia Portelli explained that the Residency and Citizenship By Investment (RCBI) industry has grown at a fast pace and today it is the bread and butter of tens of families who are in direct employment in this sector. It is also generating increased demand for ancillary products and services required by high net worth individuals interested in making Malta their new home.
For this reason, the Parliamentary Secretary stressed that due diligence is at the forefront of Malta’s operations. She explained that Malta’s mechanisms look beyond numbers and pose extensive questions in order to make sure that we have the full picture uncovered before taking the necessary steps to approve an application or otherwise.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that this industry is under heavy scrutiny, and rightly so. She added that the agencies are obliged to put these doubts to rest through the way business is conducted.
Julia Farrugia Portelli referred to the OECD ruling, stating that Malta should not be on the OECD list, as the decision was based on incorrect information, something which has already been pointed out to the OECD. She said that in Malta’s case, RCBI applicants do not automatically become residents for tax purposes in Malta, nor are they granted any tax-related benefits once obtaining citizenship or residence through these programmes.
“Holding the citizenship and residency by investment programmes to a certain level of integrity will boost the industry’s image in the long run,” stated Farrugia Portelli. The Parliamentary Secretary said that in spite of what was achieved during the past four years, Malta continued to strengthen its processes and kept to the beliefs of advocating transparency and good governance in the way we administer our programmes.
Farrugia Portelli continued by saying that it is no coincidence that most of the recommendations put forward in the report published by Transparency International and Global Witness mirror Malta’s RCBI guiding principles. Malta has voiced its opinion in favour of adopting industry-wide regulation and standardisation in due diligence practices for a long time.
Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli concluded by saying that we are duty-bound to safeguard the industry, to stick to our principles, while boosting the programme to further success.