Surge in passport sales delivers Vanuatu a record budget surplus

Vanuatu II

Source: The Guardian

Surging demand for Vanuatu passports has driven an unexpected record surplus, funding Covid-19 bailout packages and cyclone recovery.

With nearly every other sector of its fragile economy reeling from the twin crises of pandemic lockdowns and April’s category five Cyclone Harold, Vanuatu nonetheless managed to turn a 3.8bn Vanuatu Vatu (US$33.3m) surplus in the first half of 2020.

Its controversial citizenship-for-sale programmes account for nearly all of that.

The government’s half-year economic and fiscal update cites a 32% year-on-year increase in citizenship-related revenues.

To the end of June, the government had collected US$62.6m, nearly 80% of the programme’s projected income for the entire year.

And passport sales are still accelerating. Citizenship commission chairman Ronald Warsal told the Vanuatu Daily Post revenues had climbed above US$84.6m by mid-August, exceeding, already, the annual projection.

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