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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Vanuatu Exploring Expanded Permanent Residency Program
Minister says program ‘open door to big-scale investors’

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 25, 2013) – The Vanuatu Government is now exploring the possibility of establishing a Permanent Resident (PR) program similar to the Hong Kong Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (HKCIES) in Asia and Europe.

Minister responsible for Immigration and Labour, Toara Daniel, revealed this when responding to the much publicized Hong Kong PR program.

This came under public scrutiny after Daily Post informed of minister Daniel’s retrospective Order exempting participants under this program from Labour Permit requirements in a bid to lure them to invest in Vanuatu-a highly lucrative package which the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC), Labour department, Internal Affairs and finally the minister himself have taken pains to point out.

"The PR program is a government initiative approved by the Council of Ministers to grant permanent resident visas to large scale investors on mainland China who apply for Hong Kong resident visas under the HKCIES," he said.

"Under HKCIES imposed conditions Vanuatu provides the applicants with a Vanuatu offshore company, a Vanuatu permanent resident and a Vanuatu Labour Working Permit exemption.

"The system in place is the outcome of a collective decision from the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA), VFSC, Immigration, Foreign Affairs and Labour.

"It is a transparent system ensuring control and efficiency in the process of acquiring a PR visa and the transfer of funds to the Vanuatu government treasury."

He said it is normal for questions to be raised about new programs like the HKCIES but the Opposition should not try and create an unjustified saga over it, adding the granting of the Labour Working Permit Exemption did not begin under Prime Minister Sato Kilman’s government and this is the reason why no recent investor in Vanuatu requires a labor working permit.

"The PR program is an open door to a category of big scale investors who, should they decide to invest in Vanuatu will create jobs and competitions which will improve the quality, reduce the prices of our products and raise the consumer’s purchasing power," stated Minister Daniel.

In responding to why labor work permit exemption is granted when there is supposedly ‘too little chance’ for these investors to invest in Vanuatu he reminded one should not forget other countries are competing with Vanuatu on the HKCIES thus Vanuatu must offer an attractive package as charging more than what is currently charged may influence the investors to apply for visa from other countries.

He said these investors are multimillionaires and billionaires and should they wish to invest in Vanuatu one day they may do so as high value investors, not employees.

Minister Daniel reiterated the importance of knowing the conditions offered to the VFSC registered offshore investors includes: a clean police record, a net asset of 10 million Hong Kong dollars (the equivalent of Vt117million) and upon approval invest in Hong Kong a designated financial product of value not less than the above figure for seven subsequent years.

The Vanuatu interests behind this project, he said, is (I) a boost in government revenue and (II) migration of big scale investors who will invest in Vanuatu’s social and economic development.

He acknowledged PM Kilman for establishing the PR program in HK during his prime ministership so the government can now see the huge increase in its revenue.

While he was not specific the minister also alleged under past governments a Chinese individual was delegated the right to sell Vanuatu resident visas to mainland Chinese investors but the process not transparent and the money never reach government coffers.

He stressed the current initiative is legal and in line with the government’s foreign investment, fiscal and economic policies and that all legal instruments on ministerial orders or regulation amendments are drafted by State Law after assessment of direct effects and potential consequences.

Had the relevant Government authorities involved, in particular Labour, Immigration and VFSC take a proactive approach in communicating to the public and media on developments in the HKCIES many unnecessary questions would have been put to rest and accusations and speculations avoided.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
Copyright 2013 Trading Post Limited. All Rights Reserved


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