On Bloomberg today: ‘Malta has entered a race to sell the right to reside in Europe, offering the cheapest path, because it is damaged by the euro crisis’

Published: October 22, 2013 at 9:20am

Bloomberg - damage by crisis

In Bloomberg’s ‘View’ section, today:

Hundreds of destitute migrants from Africa and the Middle East died in two shipwrecks this month while attempting to reach the shores of Italy.

In the meantime, wealthy Chinese, Indians, Russians and South Africans continue to glide serenely to their favored European destinations as they flee their increasingly unstable countries.

Nations damaged by the euro crisis — Cyprus, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Spain — seem to have entered a race to sell the right to reside in Europe. Malta offers the cheapest path to eventual citizenship: just 260,000 euros. The small conditions — no criminal record, for instance — are hardly onerous.


Did our fabulous government think this wouldn’t happen, that observers wouldn’t draw the obvious conclusion? Up until this summer we revelled in press coverage and observer comment that remarked on how Malta was the only country in the Eurozone to glide through the massive financial crisis and come out alive, with almost full employment and the economy intact.

Now we are lumped with those EU economies that were decimated by the crisis (except Greece): with Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and for heaven’s sake, Latvia.

And the author mercifully didn’t point that those other jurisdictions aren’t actually selling passports, as Malta is, but easing up visas for investors and for people with lots of money.

Yes, the figure of 260,000 euros seems to have come out of nowhere, but I wouldn’t rush to remark on that, because it will only draw attention to the fact our cheapest passports are actually 25,000 euros – or, if you must insist on averaging out the figure over a couple and their two children: 181, 250 euros for each one of those four passports.

19 Comments Comment

  1. anthony says:

    Malta has not been damaged by the euro crisis but by the sadomasochism of a huge majority of its citizens in the last general elections.

    It took 25 years to build an image and a reputation that were the envy of Europe and just one Saturday in March 2013 to demolish the entire edifice.

    • ciccio says:

      Malta has not been damaged by the euro crisis, but Joseph Muscat’s sale of passports will damage Malta. It’s started already.

    • albona says:

      I think the proverbial ‘shit’ will hit the fan in the next five years. The question is: how much of our country will have been sold to despots, how much cleaning up of our institutions will need to be done etc. I don’t doubt that the PN and AD will have European backers from democratic countries — as opposed to the current government’s current circle of friends — who will see how important it is that the PL not be elected again for at least 20 years.

    • john says:

      My failing eyesight first read it as ” . . the sodomisation of a huge majority of its citizens . . .”

      I suppose one could call it that, as well.

  2. ciccio says:

    Has the Maltese media started to analyse the sale of Maltese passports seriously?

    Let us assume that:

    1. I am an Azeri living in Baku. I have a good job here working for SOCAR, the big gas and oil company, and have a nice family. I love music, and every year I give my douze points to Malta in the Jurovixjon.

    2. I have a lot of money and for my next birthday, which is on 2 November, the day after Malta starts its passport-for-cash scheme, I buy myself a Maltese passport for Euro 650,000. And I share my joy with my family and buy one for my wife and my 2 children also, for a grand total of Euro 700,000. The Malta offices send me the new passports to my Baku address.

    But I decide to continue living in Baku with my family. Let us just say that I love Baku, OK?

    I continue to work in Baku and pay Azeri taxes. I do not pay Malta taxes because I am not a tax resident of Malta.

    Joseph Muscat has just signed a ‘health agreement’ with Israel. Let us say I need specialised health services which are provided in Israel under that agreement. Do I get to fly direct from Baku to Israel, get my health checked and fixed there and return to Baku without any charges, because I am a Maltese citizen now?

    Or maybe I need health from UK institutions. Do I travel direct to the UK and get served and return to Baku without any charges?

    And as for my 2 children. Now they are Maltese citizens. Can they come to Malta and get free education and health even though nobody in my family pay any taxes in Malta?
    Are they entitled to get a stipend if they study at the University of Malta?

  3. Min Jaf says:

    Muscat and Scicluna, enthusiastically driven on by power-hungry Manuel Mallia, are looking at revenue to government, but are completely ignoring the true cost to the economy and, above all, to the hard won excellent reputation that Malta attained under the Fenech Adami- and Gonzi-led PN governments and upon which that economy was built and sustained

    Failing an immediate change of tack by Muscat, Malta is heading towards a downward economic spiral that will take decades to reverse.

  4. Plutarch says:

    Despair not! This must be Joey’s idea of ‘opening up the economy which is still entrenched in prehistoric times’. In a mere 7 months he has managed to put us on a par with his beloved Cyprus and the rest of Europe’s worst…indeed an achievement and an incentive for potential investors. But hold on…China will be our new panacea, once we become Little China in the Med. Sorry have to leave you now…time for my Mandarin lesson.

  5. L. Gatt says:

    Yesterday I attended a conference organised by UNICREDIT Banca in Pesaro Italy.

    I had a chat with the main speaker, the Unicredit international investments manager.

    When I said I was from Malta, his immediate reaction was – “I hear Malta is competing with Cyprus in trying to attract Russian shady individuals (“tipi loschi dalla Russia”, to quote him). He ended his statement with “Peccato” (pity). I tried to put in a good word for Malta. Not easy.

  6. Jozef says:

    Sweet, from best performer, resilient and whatnot to damaged economy on the bailout waiting list.

    Jigri gej l-investiment Guz. Issa tara kemm se tohloq xoghol. Jew anke ghal dak sejjer teqred l-Ewropa?

  7. Calculator says:

    Just as predicted. The move has made us seem desperate. Now as our reputation in international finance continues to sink lower, it’s only a matter of time before proper investors will start getting away from Malta as soon as possible.

  8. Lomax says:

    I knew this would happen when I heard about the scheme. I knew it would be interpreted as though we were damaged by the crisis. However, seeing it printed in black on white causes untold sadness, at least to me.

    As anthony said above, it took 25 years to pull Malta out of the mucky reputation it had acquired over the years. Just 12 hours on a random Saturday ruined everything.

  9. Emmett Brown says:

    And this is the result:


    Let us see Hamburger Joe and Chris Shultz Cardona, beat Gonzi and Fenech in keeping this important manufacturing plant in Malta.

  10. Haw' tal-Passaporti! Shan u Tajbin! says:

    Speaking of the sale of passports, I called last week the Ministry for Home Affairs (and whatever else it stands for) to book a place for the Sale of Passports seminar which was to be addressed by Henley & Partners.

    The person at the other end of the line replied “Just turn up early at the hotel where the seminar will take place so that you can get in”.

    I asked “But can’t I book to reserve a place?” (as happens in all other seminars that target professionals).

    The next answer was “The information that we have is that you go early to be able to get in”.

    I asked again and the answer I got was the same robotic one. Of course I did not bother to go to the seminar. It seems that other people were put off by this attitude towards professionals.

    If professionals are going to be treated as if we are queuing for tad-Dejma jobs, then this country can forget about the continuing development of real and proper financial services.

  11. Gordon says:

    Even cheaper than the price of a two-bedroom flat. This is the level of people we are attracting.

  12. Journalists must not be taken as infallible reporters, and the reference to Malta being hit by the €uro crisis is obviously false. This is not the first time that Malta has been grouped with other southern European Mediterranean countries in a negative way.

    However, such reactions do not just happen. A hidden negative bias may lie dormant, waiting for a news item to re-ignite this bias. Malta, a small former colony, has contributed to such a bias. One advice that I gave to the ambassadors and diplomats when I was Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (after 1987) was to tread carefully in dealing with foreign ministries, the same as if they were walking through a minefield. At any moment they could step on foreign diplomats who had formed a very negative opinion about Malta during Mintoff’s and KMB’s regimes. The same applies to journalists.

    The selling of Maltese passports, especially under the established procedures , has been one such “landmine”. The engagement of consultants blacklisted by the World Bank is another. So are the blatant political appointments in the armed forces and the police. I would not be surprised if more are to come.

  13. Josette says:

    Dalle stelle alle stalle. Thank you, Joseph Muscat and those who decided to give you a chance.

    Any bets that we’ll soon be treated to a repeat of Alfred Sant’s ħofra myth? And the problem is that, given the importance of perception to the performance of an economy, these negative perceptions will soon become reality.

  14. kjd says:

    If you act like a prostitute selling your wares do not be offended if you are called a whore- and a cheap one at that. Dr Muscat, can you smell the coffee!

  15. ciccio says:

    “Yes, the figure of 260,000 euros seems to have come out of nowhere…”

    I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Maybe Bloomberg knows something more than we do about this “exciting” citizenship scheme.

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