Citizenship sale: it’s a fail

This post was first published on www.timesofmalta.com

 

I have not yet blogged about the mess that has become the Maltese citizenship saga because my able colleagues on this site have already said it all, and very eloquently too. In short, the idea stinks.

At this stage, it is pretty much a fait accompli. Short of an invasion from a non-existent EU army, the law will, indeed, be implemented. No amount of petitions and Facebook pages will change that.

Over these past two days we have faced an incredible backlash from the rest of Europe. So strong is this backlash that, even if you genuinely believe there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this idea, selling citizenships has simply become not worth it for Malta.

Note to government: when you become the target of all the headlines of the major international newspapers, you should give some weight to the implications.

Let’s put aside all ethical arguments for a minute. Whether we like it or not, an island our size needs to maintain excellent relations with mainland Europe. Otherwise, good luck getting the tourists here, and good luck finding jobs in the UK, Germany etc.

To put it in simpler language, pissing off the whole of Europe and the US is suicidal. Sure, sovereignty, independence and the rest of it are valuable, but in this day and age so are international relations.

When everyone else is giving us the cold shoulder, who will Malta turn to? China?

There are, of course, other practical considerations that we have not quite addressed. Those on the pro camp quote the financial benefits as the main reason why it’s all right Jack.

After all, more money in Malta’s coffers can’t hurt, right? Yet, no-one seems to know exactly what will happen to the money, except that it will be placed in a ‘posterity fund’.

Say what? I’m sure I speak for a good number of you when I say that I expect answers to the following questions and I expect them fast:

Will the financial process be publicly audited? In short, will the public be regularly informed about how many people bought citizenship and how much they paid for it?

Will the auditing be done by third parties, or are we expected to accept the word of government officials about what seems to have become a super-secret process?

Will there be a standard of acceptance? None of us are naive enough to believe that in these circumstances, a run of the mill look at an applicants’ criminal record is enough.

Will the potential of corruption – ie, of the funds being illicitly syphoned and of citizenships being awarded without due process – be addressed?

What, exactly, will this “posterity fund for future generations” be used for? To benefit the few? To benefit a particular cause that I don’t necessarily agree with?

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