Golden Visas have a limited effect on economy says minister

 In Opinion

Portugal’s Golden Visa programme has had “a very limited effect in attracting investment to Portugal” according to a government minister.

However, the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, told MPs in Parliament that the Government couldn’t scrap the programme as it had over time “fed the economy” like a farmer feeds his chickens, “grain by grain”.
Augusto Santos Silva spoke of the programme on a special debate over the State Budget 2020 in reply to an MP, André Silva (PAN) who quoted a report from the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI).
André Silva pointed out that the lack of control over the programme highlighted in the report meant that the review of the Programme for the Authorisation of Residency through Investment Activities (ARI), also referred to as “Golden Visa” is “an authentic jump into the dark.”
Under the terms of the review, investment preference will be given to applicants who invest in areas of low-population density outside the main cities of Lisbon and Porto as well as projects that provide employment and refurbish heritage real estate.
In his reply, Santos Silva defended the programme stating that the failures highlighted in the MAI report had already been rectified, namely that in 2019, following a recommendation from the OECD and approved by Parliament, a measure for greater cooperation between the borders authority SEF and the Tax Authorities to control the origin of the capital used to purchase the Golden Visas was introduced.
The minister also pointed out that 20 of the 28 Euro Member States operated similar regimes for investment attraction and that in Portugal, a criminal investigation that ended up in court over the granting of Golden Visas and suspected corruption ended up by finding all the legal defendants “not guilty”.
However, MAI admitted on TSF Radio that it had never carried out any evaluation on the impact of the Golden Visas on the Portuguese economy and that it was not down to the immigration and borders agency SEF to control the origins of the capital invested in Portugal.
Portugal’s Minister of the Interior, Eduardo Cabrita said he did not have the information “crucial to evaluate the integrity and usefulness of the programme and that there is no data on the Golden Visas whose beneficiaries bought property through companies and that evaluations into the programme’s economic impact have never been made.”
This was how the ministry replied to Transparency & Integrity, the Portuguese arm of Transparency International, after the anti-corruption watchdog had for 18 months been demanding information on the applicants and the origins of their investment be made public, but to which the Government had refused to make the information public.The final reply, which TSF got access to, arrived this week in which the Government that said it would only divulge the information when forced by the Lisbon Administrative Court.