Government rejects end to Golden Visa regime despite criticisms

 In News

Portugal’s socialist party government has rejected calls to scrap the Golden Visa scheme which has netted the country €3.842Bn since its inception in 2012 – over 90% from property purchases. 

The left-wing Bloc Esquerda party, with which the Government has an agreement in parliament (known as the “geringonça” or jalopy), says that the Golden Visa programme (Authorisation for Residency through Investment (ARI) has not contributed towards creating companies or jobs.

It has criticised the scheme for fuelling property speculation and house price inflation in Greater Lisbon, Porto and other cities in Portugal. Some landlords and tenants agree, stating that the Visa Golds have generated artificial demand and speculation.

Last week, the Bloco Esquerda announced a parliamentary bill to revoke the law for ARIs. The Government, headed by Prime Minister António Costa, recognises that the granting of Golden Visas – created in 2012 under the centre-right PSD government of Pedro Passos Coelho in return for job creation – had been minimal.

However, it states that it doesn’t want to end the foreign investment attraction instrument. The PS party parliamentary spokesman, MP Carlos Pereira, says that the “attraction of investment is very important for the country.”

The Bloco Esquerda party accuses the measure of causing speculation, influence trafficking and embezzlement. 

“The BE has denounced the Golden Visas for a long time as a factor which has greatly contributed towards the proliferation of economic criminality in Portugal,” it says.

It is an accusation that has gained currency in the European Parliament in a debate that discussed Portugal’s vanguard position in residency for investment schemes.

The BE party, led by Catarina Martins, calls the Golden Visa scheme a “fiasco” with only nine out of 5,700 Golden Visa processes between February and March creating jobs.