2 Jul 2019

Vanuatu chiefs want end to govt sale of honorary citizenship

6:05 pm on 2 July 2019

The Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs in Vanuatu has spoken out against the government selling honorary citizenship to boost revenue.

The coat of arms on the Vanuatu passport.

The coat of arms on the Vanuatu passport. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Since its introduction in 2016 the Vanuatu honorary citizenship development support programme has grown in popularity with an estimated 1800 successful applicants in 2018 alone.

That's almost five new honorary citizenships granted each day.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported the president of the council, Willie Grey Plasua, said he understood the government needed to generate revenue to provide services to the people of Vanuatu.

But he said that doesn't mean it has to sell the national identity.

Mr Plasua said many ni-Vanuatu had voiced concerns and the chiefs stand with them.

He said the programme must be stopped before honorary Vanuatu citizens number in the tens-of-thousands and start to make a political impact in the country.

The application fees for honorary Vanuatu citizenship start at $US150,000 and government website lists visa free travel to 129 countries and lifetime access to Vanuatu's tax-free economy.

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