The Parliamentary Committee on Economic Policies (CEP) was told by officials from the Passport Office that to date over 4,000 Vanuatu passports have been sold under the citizenship program.
This was revealed when the CEP summoned officials from the Passport Office while the committee met in May to inquire into and examine matters related to the regulation of economics activities, foreign and domestic commerce.
CEP co-chairman, MP Kalo Seule confirmed the figure during their meeting with local media on their one-month long inquiry into different government and private institutions.
“Since the establishment of the Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program in 2017, every year there has been an increase in the number of the sale of passports,” said co-chairman Seule.
Daily Post understands there has been no substantial increase in the number of visitors from China in 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, the CEP committee has advised the citizenship bureau to tighten regulations on passport sales via the granting of Vanuatu honorary citizenship.
“Currently we are selling passports to some foreigners who have no interest to invest in Vanuatu, the Passport Office and the Citizenship Office must include policies such as if a foreigner wants a Vanuatu passport, he or she must come and invest in Vanuatu,” said MP Seule.
“Maybe they (foreigners) do not want to stay in Vanuatu but they have the duty to invest in the country and by doing so, they will provide jobs to locals.”
The CEP also wants to see every foreigner who buys a Vanuatu passport coming to pay and getting it here in Vanuatu, not overseas or through agents outside the country.
The sale of citizenship has raked in millions into government coffers, for the purpose of raising funds to support infrastructure and promoting economic development in the country.
The CEP has also summoned the Vanuatu Project Management Unit in relation to wharf projects, Ministry of Finance regarding copra subsidy, Robert Monvoisin for Cattle and Livestock industry, Au Bon Marche, Department of Industry and others.
The committee will report the results of their inquiries in the next sitting of parliament.
The CEP committee has MP John Sala as chairman and the following as members: MPs Kalo Seule; Francois Chani; Edwin Macreveth; Gracia Shadrack; Sato Kilman and Jack Wona.
Parliament has eight committees. These are: Public Accounts Committee; Committee on Standing Orders Review; Committee on Privileges; Committee on Economic Policies; Committee on Social Policy; Committee on Institution; Committee on the Members of Parliament Ethics and Integrity; and Committee on Foreign Affairs and External Trade.