According to the Vanuatu National Citizenship Commission (VNCC), nearly US$53 million in revenue was made in 2020, thanks to the pacific island’s highly successful Citizenship by Investment programme.
The VNCC’s new chairman, Ronald Warsal, told the Vanuatu Daily Post that since January 2020, its citizenship by investment programme has collected VT6 billion revenue (nearly US$53 million).
He also reiterated how such programmes are really important for countries in terms of revenue collection. This comes following recent calls by Vanuatu Prime Minister Bob Loughman for the commission to work on reviewing the programme.
Furthermore, Ronald Warsal confirmed that his office was currently working on reviewing the programme and looking at various expansions. He told the Daily Post that there was no intention “to stop the programme”, but instead to “continue to expand the investment program to Citizenship Tourism Investment Program (CTIP), in order for investors who wish to pay for citizenship to also invest in the country and in return provide work to Ni-Vanuatu citizens”.
He made the point that 99% of those who invest in Vanuatu citizenship do not actually go to live in, or invest in, Vanuatu, but instead become citizens in order to procure the power of the pacific island’s passport, using the citizenship and passport to travel visa-free to other countries worldwide.
Vanuatu’s passport offers visa-free travel to 125 countries, including the UK, EU, Russia, Singapore and Hong Kong, and while this is less than most of the Caribbean countries also offering economic citizenship, it is still a powerful passport and Vanuatu is gradually increasing its visa-free and visa-on-arrival destinations.
Chairman Warsal told the Daily Post that in response to the fact that most investor citizens did not live in, or invest in, the country, the government was preparing a policy paper in line with the expansion of the programme, as well as to tighten up for investors to invest in the tourism sector. “By doing so it will provide employment to locals while investing in the programme,” he said.
Revenues needed post-pandemic
He explained that while the Vanuatu border is currently closed, due to the pandemic, affecting Vanuatu’s tourism sector, the country’s only quick cash revenue to help citizens through this time of crisis is this programme.
“I can confirm the stimulus package of VT4 billion to help businesses and employees that have been affected from the Covid-19 pandemic was sourced in the national treasury through the fund collected by this programme,” he added.
He revealed that during January to April this year, the commission has collected VT4 Billion.
Taking up his new appointment on April 30, Chairman Warsal said that by May 1st, the programme had collected VT 1.6 billion since the start of the year, but that this had grown exponentially during the pandemic. “While we have lockdown all over the world, it is good for our economy to be that strong in terms of revenue because we still don’t know how long the pandemic will last,” Warsal added.
Via its parliament, the government have asked for the office of Citizenship Commission to collect VT7 billion per year through the programme, but according to chairman Warsal, for this year alone, a total of VT14-15 billion is predicted.
“Vanuatu is ranked sixth because of its processing programme in place and we have to maintain the standard compared to other countries in the world.”
The commission is working closely with the national government to strengthen the programme, expand it and ensure it create jobs for the locals.
Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment Programme
Unveiled in 2017, Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program is the only CBI on offer in the Asia-Pacific. Currently, there are two investment options, but one is purely focused on China. Its programme is widely considered to be one of the fastest routes to a second passport with a processing time of 45 days. A minimum outlay of US$130,000 is required to gain citizenship.
Due to Covid-19 crisis, the Citizenship’s office and Commission of Vanuatu is accepting citizenship applications electronically (forms are downloadable online) and they are further accepting digital media (video conference) for the Oaths presentation, which previously required a trip.
Furthermore, Vanuatu is a tax haven with no taxes imposed on income, inheritance or gains. Citizenship can be granted to the spouse, children and grandparents.
Vanuatu is a consistently democratic and peaceful community and was dubbed the Happiest Place in the World 2020.
Find out more about Vanuatu and its Citizenship by Investment programme by reading our Country Profile, click here.