The Fund in which proceeds from Malta’s Citizenship by direct investment are directed is the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF). The NDSF is a government agency which was established in 2015 by the previous Individual Investor Programme Regulations under the Malta Citizenship Act (Chapter 188).
Malta Citizenship by Investment Fund: The Malta National Development and Social Fund (NDSF)
As per Article 13 of the IIP Regulations the NDSF shall received 20% out of the contributions received by the Malta Individual Investment Programme Agency (MIIPA). This Government Agency has now been substituted by Komunita Malta Agency. The NDSF is administered by a Board of Governors who shall be appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers and is responsible for ensuring the highest level of governance of he Fund. The Board of Governors is responsible for setting the investment strategy of the NDSF and for this purpose the fund has allocated three main portfolios, namely the Directed Portfolio, the Discretionary Portfolio and the Unallocated Portfolio. The Discretionary Portfolio holds 30% of all funds received from Komunita Malta. The NDSF has given an investment, management, custody and administration mandate to the Central Bank of Malta to manage this portfolio on a discretionary basis. The Directed Portfolio holds 70% of all funds received from Komunita Malta which are used for social and development purposes. Any funds which are not allocate to either the Directed or Discretionary Portfolio are retained in an Unallocated Portfolio. The Fund is required to publish annual audited accounts and an annual report which are tabled in Parliament and also subject to scrutiny by the National Audit Office.
The aim of the Malta Citizenship by Investment Fund
The main aim of the citizenship fund is to contribute towards supporting major projects and initiatives of national importance and public interest such as education, infrastructure, heritage, research and innovation, justice, the rule of law, sports, employment, and public health. The vision of the fund is to contribute towards the growth of the country’s sovereign wealth by adhering to the highest standards of accountability and transparency.
NDSF assistance during Covid-19
During Covid the Maltese Government has diverted 80% of the funds’ income to public finances to cushion the Covid-19 expenses. This temporary measure meant less funds to the NFSD. Under normal circumstances only 30% from the citizenship by investment programme is allocated to public finances with 70% going to the NSDF. Malta’s Prime Minister described the NDSF as a war-chest during the pandemic. During 2020, the NDSF received €27.8 million from Komunita Malta Agency, so that the total amount of proceeds received from inception to-date amounts to €599.8 million. In 2019, NDSF received €105.9 million. The difference is the result of the fact that in 2020, the ratio of how funds are distributed was changed in order to reflect the exigencies of the global health pandemic.
In order to protect the economy, the Maltese Government guaranteed an €800 monthly wage supplement for employees which the employer had to bolster with another €400. This means that for those employees on a minimum wage the government sponsored 90% of their salary. This measure covered over 60,000 workers, whilst those who lost their job were entitled to a temporary salary paid by the government of €800 euro per month for full timers and €500 per month for part timers. A benefit of €800 per month (€500 in case of part-timers) was also paid to one of the parents (including single parents) who took additional unpaid leave to take care of children whilst schools remained closed, when both parents work in the private sector.
The government had also postponed all tax dues for affected companies to ensure they would have enough liquidity. Banks offered moratoria on existing loans and the NDSF provided the funds so that the Malta Development Bank could guarantee capital loans to affected firms.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Fund: The Projects
The Maltese Government has used funds from the NDSF to improve Malta’s healthcare, social and sport projects and to protect Malta’s cultural heritage.
NDSF assistance for social projects
Since the fund was set up, €109 million have been allocated to social projects, €66 million of them pledged to social housing developments. The fund has also invested around €33 million towards various social projects including co-funding to local voluntary organisations. Funds were also allocated to help those who can’t get life insurance (owing to a past medical condition) to get a home loan. The NDSF has also allocated €1.5 million to Caritas for the charity organisation to invest in a new property assisting people in need.
NDSF assistance for healthcare projects
The Maltese Government has used funds from the NDSF to improve Malta’s healthcare. In 2021 a new cardiac suite was inaugurated with a €1 million euro investment. The government has also diverted €8 million from the fund to Hospice Malta for the completion of a palliative care complex project which will offer day therapy and outpatients clinic for cancer patients who can no longer live at home whilst remaining surrounded by their loved ones. Another significant investment in this area was a €5 million deal to build apartments in London for cancer patients receiving medical treatment there.
NDSF assistance for sport projects
Funds from the NDSF are also used to support sports. In 2021, €5 million were allocated to train Team Malta ahead of the next edition of the Small Nations Games which will also be hosted in Malta in 2023. Another €20 million originating from the NDSF will be allocated to build Malta’s first professional car racetrack.
NDSF assistance for cultural projects
Funds from the NDSF are also used to protect Malta’s cultural heritage. Various monuments and churches in need of restoration benefit from funds originating from the NDSF. The fund will also be using income from the NDSF to buy property which is rented out to band clubs from private owners. This is in line with the NDSF mission to contribute towards, promote and support major projects that are of national importance. When properties are acquired, such premises will be transferred to the respective band clubs, under a new title of long lease.
NDSF acquisition of Government Stocks, Investments and Banks
The NDSF has acquired a 49% stake in a local bank in Malta (Lombard Bank0 from Cyprus Popular Bank Public Co Ltd, a company who was placed in resolution, kicking off a process to dispose of certain assets including its shareholding in Lombard Bank Malta. The main aim for the acquisition on the part of the NDSF was to protect Maltese bank account holders. The NDSF has also purchased shares of Bank of Valletta. This equity investment (2.91% shareholding) by the NDSF in Malta’s largest investment grade-rated institution was considered by the Board of Governors to yield a relatively high return to the Fund in the current market environment, which will in turn contribute to the Fund’s sustained long-term growth for the benefit of future generations. In 2020, the NDSF has also purchases up to €104.8 million worth of government stocks and €57.5 million worth of treasury bills. It also invested €1.7 million in local equities and €1.1 million in corporate bonds.