Vanuatu Citizenship programme under investigation


New locks have been installed on doors at the Citizenship Office in Port Vila as the Vanuatu Government initiates an investigation into the lucrative Citizenship Programme.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau on Friday.

“As Minister responsible for the Citizenship Commission, I have taken the decision to ensure the installment of new locks and keys on doors in the Citizenship Office this week,” he said.

“This is part of the government’s initiatives to resolve the suspension of the Visa Waiver agreement with the European Union (EU).

PM Kalsakau said this is will better allow an investigation on the alleged anomalies in the Citizenship Program.

“Staff are not allowed to enter the office after working hours. If our investigation determines that some agents are involved in the current situation, which resulted in the suspension of the visa-free access by EU, this could result in the cancellation of their licences,” he said. 

PM Kalsakau said the office of the Attorney General is currently working on the review and process of the programme. This is expected to be tabled in the next parliament session. He said as of now on, an application to obtain Vanuatu Citizenship under the Citizenship Programme must be screened by three separate bodies such as Immigration, Police and the Financial Intelligent Unit.

Kalsakau confirmed he will be travelling to meet with the EU President regarding this issue next month. In his inaugural speech, PM Kalsakau emphasised the importance of the country’s Citizenship Programme for its contribution to government revenue.

The newly appointed chairman of the Citizenship Commission, Robin Kapapa, has confirmed the transfer of former Citizenship staff but could not elaborate further as they are civil servants.

Chairman of Public Service Commission, Martin Mahe, could not be reached for comment.

A reliable source from the Commission told Vanuatu Daily Post that nine staff, including the Secretary of the Commission, have been transferred to another government department.  The source said the Citizenship Office is now managed by the Department of Immigration.