FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (Cap 496)​ entitles eligible persons to submit FOI requests to all established Public Authorities.  As one of the designated Public Authorities, OR-GCES is bound to conform with the provisions of such Act and related subsidiary legislation.  In particular, Article 17(1) of the Act requires OR-GCES to provide related information including (but not limited to) its responsibilities, the categories of documents which it holds and information on how members of the public can submit official FOI requests.

Information on the OR-GCES can be found here

The Categories of documents held by OR-GCES are as follows:
 

        a)     Reports drawn up by the Regulator related to the Individual Investor Programme and the 

              Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services;

b)    Correspondence received / issued by the OR-GCES;

c)     Documents related to Complaints submitted to the Regulator;

d)    Checklists used by the OR-GCES for vetting of applications;

e)     Monthly Incident Reports submitted to the MIIPA / CMA, which Reports emanate from the vetting of applications;

f)      Complaints Form (FORM D2) required to be submitted to the Regulator in connection with Maltese citizenship refusals in terms of the GCES Regulatins 2020;

g)   Operational Guidelines for officers deployed within the OR-GCES;

h)   Security Clearance Levels for officers deployed within the OR-GCES;

i)    HR File pertaining to OR-GCES Staff;   

j)    Copies of related Legislation (Main and Subsidiary).


With regards to submitting an FOI request, it is pertinent for one to note the following:
In order to be eligible to submit FOI requests, a person has to be a resident in Malta and have been so for a period of at least five years. Such person has to be also either a citizen of Malta or a citizen of any other member state of the European Union or a citizen of any other state the citizens of which have a right, in virtue of any treaty between such state and the European Union, to be treated in Malta in the same manner as citizens of member states of the European Union.​

FOI Requests or Complaints of a general nature related to OR-GCES are to be sent in an electronic format, either by e-Mail (at orgces.mhse@gov.mt), by using OR-GCES's "Contact Us" Form​ or directly through the Freedom of Information Website.   In such latter case these can be sent from here​.


OR-GCES's opening hours are from Monday to Friday (except on Public Holidays) between 7:30am and 2:30pm, all the year round.


When submitting an FOI request, applicants will be required, apart from providing contact details, to give an indication of the document/information that they wish to obtain. They will also need to indicate the format in which they wish to receive such document/information, namely as a hard copy/print-out, as an electronic copy, in the form of a summary/excerpt of contents or by on-site inspection of the document/information in question. Copies of the ID card or passport and/or additional documentation, as deemed necessary may be requested by the OR-GCES, in the case of requests relating specifically to the individual, individual's assest/interests/right of access.  

In essence, one may ask for any article that is held by OR-GCES and on which information has been recorded in whatever form, including electronic data, images, scale models and other visual representations, and audio or video recordings, regardless of whether the information can be read, seen, heard or retrieved with or without the aid of any other article or device.  One may also ask for documentation which contains policies, principles, rules or guidelines in accordance with which decisions or recommendations are made.  Furthermore, eligible persons have the right to request information (in the form of a written statement) on a decision or recommendation made in their respect or in respect of a body corporate which they represent.

FOI requests will be duly acknowledged by the OR-GCES. The acknowledgement forms will include a unique reference number and an indication of the date by when the response will be given. The forms shall also include specific information related to the OR-GCES, such as its address, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, opening hours and also details of its internal complaints procedure.

On receipt of the application form, the OR-GCES will verify whether the request qualifies as an FOI request and will inform the applicant accordingly if this is not the case.  If it transpires that additional information/documentation is required, applicants will be contacted by the OR-GCES and they will be provided with all possible assistance in order to ensure that such request complies with the provisions of the Act. This notwithstanding, when submitting an FOI request, applicants are not required to provide any justifications for requesting any particular documentation/information.

The OR-GCES will also verify whether the requested document/information is held at its end.  If this is not the case OR-GCES will seek to identify the proper entity to whom the request should be submitted and will transfer such application accordingly (informing the applicant in the process).  If no alternative entity is identified (meaning that the document/information cannot be traced at any Public Authority) the applicant will be informed accordingly.

Once it establishes that a request is an FOI request and can be addressed from its end, the OR-GCES will determine whether it can provide the applicant with the document/information requested (in full or in part) or whether it will refuse the request.  Prior to taking a decision in this regard, the OR-GCES shall consider whether any of the exemptions listed in the FOI Act apply.  The OR-GCES will submit notification of whether the request will be accepted or not within 20 working days from its receipt.  An additional 20 working days extention can be further applied, bringing up the total to a maximum of 40 workings days from the date of the receipt of the original request.

When submitting a response to the applicant, the OR-GCES shall indicate whether any fees apply.  If applicable, such fees shall cover only the costs related to making a document available to the applicant, namely hours of processing, costs of photocopies/faxes and digital media and costs related to inspections.  Notwithstanding the above, the total applicable fee shall not exceed €40.  No additional fees can be incurred for submitting applications or complaints of a general nature related to OR-GCES.  

The application of fees is regulated by L.N. 158 of 2010.

If the applicant is not satisfied with the response provided by the OR-GCES vis-à-vis its request, the applicant is entitled to submit a complaint to it.  If, subsequently, the applicant remains unsatisifed with the response received, he/she may lodge an appeal with the Information and Data Protection Commssioner (IDPC).  If the applicant remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the appeal he/she may appeal to the Information and Data Protection Tribunal and, subsequently, to the Court of Appeal.

Complaints may be submitted for the following reasons:

                                    ·     The OR-GCES has applied an extension to the 20-working day deadline; 

                                     ·     The OR-GCES has imposed a fee which is deemed to be excessive;

                                     ·     The document is not being provided in the requested format;

                                     ·     The request is being refused (e.g. request not deemed to be an FOI request);               

                                     .      The OR-GCES does not respect the 20-working day deadline (or the deadline                                                            indicated in the notification of extension, if applicable) for submitting a response.

 Applicants may submit a complaint through the IDPC’s website by clicking here.

Whenever the OR-GCES communicates a decision to an applicant that access to a document/information will be granted, the applicant shall also be invited to effect payment of fees (if applicable).  At this stage OR-GCES can only accept cheque payments (i.e. not cash).  These are to be made payable to “The Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality”.  

If cheques are sent by post these are to be sent to the afore-mentioned address.  If, on the other hand, the applicant calls physically in order to deposit the cheque, he/she may opt to either go physically to the Finance and Administration Directorate within the Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality or to the OR-GCES and deposit the cheque at its premises.  In any case, cheques are passed on to the afore-mentioned Finance and Administration Directorate for processing and for the issuance of a receipt.

Within 10 working days following payment, the OR-GCES will provide the document/information in the same format as the applicant had originally requested or, if this is not possible, in any other format deemed appropriate by the OR-GCES.  Applicants who submit requests through the FOI portal (www.foi.gov.mt) may be provided with the possibility of downloading the document/information directly from the site.

 

If no fee will be charged, the document/information will be provided within 10 working days following notification.  The request shall be considered to have been abandoned by the applicant if payment is not affected within 20 working days following notification.

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Information:

 Contact Name
The Office of the Regulator, Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services
62, Level 2
Blue Building
Qormi Road
Luqa LQA9042

 Telephone
+356 25689381​