(Famagusta Gazette) -- Malta has generated 518 million euros since it started its citizenship by investment scheme, according to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Replying to a parliamentary question on Wednesday, Muscat said that, of the total revenue generated, 363 million euros had entered in the country's National Development and Social Fund.
The fund, which was set up in 2016, receives 70 percent of the contributions made under the country's Individual Investor Program (IIP).
The government has pledged to use the funds to resurface all of Malta's roads, among other initiatives.
Through the IIP, high-net worth individuals can obtain Maltese citizenship, with all the benefits of EU citizenship, after paying a fee of 650,000 euros, as well as an investment of 150,000 euros in government bonds and 350,000 euros in property investment. And a physical presence is not required for applicants to prove residency.
The scheme has been controversial since its inception. While opponents have argued that citizenship should not be for sale, Muscat insisted that the IIP would allow Malta to attract talent.
Despite the government's reassurances that the strictest of due diligence processes is carried out before applicants are approved, doubts have also been cast on the individuals being granted citizenship.
The vast majority of those granted citizenship to date have hailed from Russia and former Soviet republics.
Back in 2014, the European Parliament had voted in favour of a resolution which stated, among other things, that European citizenship should not carry a price tag. Despite calls by the parliament for the European Commission to intervene, the Commission had stated that it had no authority to dictate who member states were allowed to grant citizenship to.