Malta, the European Union’s smallest member, on Monday raised the price it will charge well-heeled foreigners for citizenship from 650 000 euros to 1.15 million euros (R16.25m).
The scheme, which effectively offers work and residency rights within the 28-nation EU bloc and the passport-free Schengen area, has been rejected by the opposition and raised eyebrows abroad.
“This total of 1.15 million euros will create a bond with the country in a tangible manner,” Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told reporters.
Applicants – capped at a maximum of 1,800 – will have to buy or rent local property and invest in Maltese bonds or shares for at least five years, as well as pay into a national development fund, Muscat said.
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, who walked out of talks with the government over the issue, said citizenship should not be put up for immediate sale, but granted only after a period of residence and investment.
“The scheme should be withdrawn outright because it would only serve to continue to harm the country. The best thing for Malta was to tell the world that the scheme had been scrapped,” Busuttil said. – SAPA-DPA