Minister of Finance Aleksandar Damjanović said at yesterday’s session of the Parliamentary Administrative Committee that the state can earn up to EUR 70 million from the economic citizenship project next year, which was stated for the first time in the budget proposal for 2023.
He pointed out that 35 million is guaranteed income, and that the rest will depend on the resolution of the submitted applications.
He emphasized that the entire procedure of economic citizenship during 2020 and 2021 was conducted in a non-transparent manner.
– I was shocked by the fact that these funds were in ESCROW accounts, outside the budget, which was absolutely illegal. This money must be stated in the budget – stated Damjanović.
He announced that the money received from this project will be invested in less developed municipalities, especially those in the north, as well as in projects of public importance.
The government’s project to acquire Montenegrin citizenship in exchange for investments in some of the investment projects in the fields of tourism, processing industry and agriculture was supposed to be completed by the beginning of this year, but at the end of last year it was extended for another year. Investors are asking for its extension in the next year as well, but Prime Minister Dritan Abazović emphasized at one of the Government sessions that there is no extension. The plan was to distribute a total of 2,000 passports.
The European Commission has advised Montenegro to abolish the investor citizenship scheme due to the risks it poses (such as money laundering, tax evasion, terrorist financing, corruption and organized crime infiltration).
Damjanović said that because of this, the state will suffer enormous economic damage.
– It would be good if additional space could be found to continue this project, if it is transparent and legal, even while I am sitting here… The damage will be great because there are a large number of applicants who would like to come to Montenegro and realize their investments. This topic is on the table for the parliament and the government to think about together and to see if we can get a concession or get a similar project through negotiations – said Damjanović, local media writes.