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Citizenship through investments represents one of those opportunities that should definitely not be missed. Especially considering that, being a tourist destination we have competitive advantage in the fast-growing industry of economic citizenship, which according to some estimates reaches 3 billion euros annually.
We can find positive examples of implementation of citizenship through investments in the Mediterranean countries, EU member states, Malta and Cyprus. Both of these examples are showing opening of new sources of financing the state budget as well as of programs that are important for dynamic and sustainable growth of the society.
Since 2013 when the program for economic citizenship was implemented, it is estimated that Cyprus has earned 4 billion euros by attracting rich individuals searching for new global opportunities for expanding their businesses. Cyprus grants its citizenship through real estate investments worth 2 million euros or through acquisition of state bonds or shares in the companies from Cyprus worth 2.5 million euros. This resulted in the rise of real estate value as well as in new sources of financing of state budget and the economy.
Individual Investor Program, the name for the economic citizenship program in Malta, requests from foreigners who want to become citizens of Malta a minimum investment of 880 000 euros, most of which goes to the National Development Fund of Malta, institution financing healthcare, education and opening new jobs. The remaining amounts are invested in state bonds and ownership or renting real estate. By the estimation of the Central Bank of Malta this program is already contributing 2.5% to the GDP and to the yearly real estate value rise of 7%.
Montenegro now has its own opportunity to achieve social and economic benefit by implementing the project of citizenship through investments. NATO membership and the accelerated EU accession process are our important added values which may position us in this new business which is growing with migration and globalization trends. Security and access to larger markets, together with quality of life and tax advantages, represent decisive factors in the selection of the new citizenship by the investors.
Geopolitical situation in the Middle East as well as the aspiration of the new growing bread of Asian millionaires to move to western and European markets contributes substantially to the growth of the wealthy immigration. All that enables Montenegro, by using the Citizenship through investments program, to attract new funds that benefit the existing economy but also to attract unique human capital that can enable development of various new forms of business. Data for China, for example, shows that more than 90 000 millionaires have left the country between 2000 and 2014 and that 50% of existing ones plan to do so in the next 5 years. USA, Canada and Australia are top destinations for immigration of wealthy Chinese, and quality of life, pollution and education are the key factors of choice. As a Mediterranean and European country with quite well preserved natural environment, favourable tax policies and existing Chinese investments, Montenegro could be an attractive destination for the wealthy Chinese immigrants. Also it could open a possibility for the internationalisation of the education system through partnership with USA and UK universities.
It will also be necessary to create specialised institutions for this project as well as licences for the companies, law offices and consultants who will work on promoting and implementing the program. Let me mention the example of Canada, one of the leading countries in attracting human and economic capital with immigration program, which has established a Ministry for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism. All of the above will enable a professional approach, high criteria for the selection of the investors as well as transparency for the project. This is all very important to tackle public scepticism with such projects. Scepticism that is proven wrong by economic indicators of successful examples of implementation of the citizenship through investments project.
With all mentioned above, positioning in the context of global citizenship can be an important added value to the national brand, especially from the point of view of tourism and attracting direct foreign investments, vital categories of our economy.
I would also like to stress the fact that this program would not mean thousands of people coming to Montenegro. We are talking about few hundreds prospective foreign investors with checked background, as well as possibility to limit the economic citizenship to certain amount of years.