In view of the warnings from the European Commission (EC), the government will make a decision on the status of the economic citizenship program in the coming period, the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism said.
Recently, in a report on the monitoring of the visa-free regime of the EU with Montenegro, the EC warned about the economic citizenship program, stating that it may be abolished because of this.
According to this program, which was launched in 2019, 641 foreigners have received Montenegrin citizenship so far, according to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) provided to Vijesti.
Of these, the minority Government of Dritan Abazović, since it was formed at the end of April, has issued 232 passports based on investments.
In the response of the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism to Vijesti, they remind that the introduction of the Special Investment Program of special importance for the economic and economic interest of Montenegro was done with the aim of developing the country, i.e. attracting foreign investments, which will intensify development projects in the tourism, agriculture and processing sectors. industry in the entire area of Montenegro, and above all in the north.
The Ministry stated that on November 22, 2018, the former DPS Government adopted the Decision on the criteria, method and procedure for selecting persons who can acquire Montenegrin citizenship by admission for the implementation of a special investment program of special importance for the economic and economic interest of Montenegro.
“The Decision at the time stipulated that it would apply from January 1, 2019 to December 31 last year. It is defined that during the duration of the Special Program, decisions on admission to Montenegrin citizenship can be made on the basis of the Special Program on the basis of a maximum of two thousand requests”, said the Ministry.
On December 30 last year, the government of Zdravko Krivokapić extended the program for another 12 months, with the explanation that investors did not have time to complete the projects due to the covid crisis.
Most decisions on admission to Montenegrin citizenship, based on a special investment program, were made by the Government of Zdravko Krivokapić.
In a little more than a year, they released 301.
Duško Marković’s government gave out 108 “golden passports” during the start of the program, in the first eight months. The first such document was issued in February 2020.
The plan was for investors, in exchange for a Montenegrin passport, to invest in development projects in tourism, agriculture and the processing industry. There is little interest in agricultural projects (one project), and no public invitation has been issued for the processing industry.
On the list of development projects in the field of tourism, within the program are projects related to the construction of hotels according to the condo or mixed model, which means that they contain apartments for sale.
The conditions for obtaining a Montenegrin passport were originally an investment of at least EUR 450,000 in one of the development projects in Podgorica and the coast, or EUR 250,000 in the northern or central region, as well as donations to less developed municipalities, but this year the Government will tighten them.
Now all investors must submit to the Government a bank guarantee in the amount of 50 percent of the investment within a month.
In addition, applicants for citizenship, in addition to EUR 100,000 for the Fund for the Development of Underdeveloped Municipalities, will have to allocate another EUR 100,000 to the Innovation Fund.
The EC has repeatedly said that they are carefully monitoring this program in Montenegro, and earlier they took measures against Malta and Cyprus due to the scandal with the granting of citizenships.
These countries have collected billions of euros by selling thousands of passports, which in some cases have provided EU citizenship to people wanted by their home countries.
In 2010, the Montenegrin government started the program of economic citizenship, but gave it up at the request of the EU. Due to pressure from Brussels, the program was not launched in 2016 either, local media writes.