Golden Visa should be wound up smoothly
The President of the Regional Government of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque expressed the hope that the end of the Portugal Golden Visa programme should be done in the smoothest way possible and in line with the interests of the country.
Telling the news agency Lusa that he thought the region would continue to attract investment, Albuquerque said scrapping the Golden Visa did not mean that the interests of the country should be subordinated to the interests of Lisbon and Porto.
“We should consider those districts that need investment, that need to grow, that need to attract investment whether in the real estate area or in other areas”.
Reacting to news that the Government was preparing to end the Golden Visa programme which has netted Portugal around €6Bn since 2012, Albuquerque said: “I think we should try and wind up the Golden Visa programme in the smoothest way possible and in line with the interests of the country” adding that not all regions in Portugal were “saturated” (with investors and lack of housing) or the problem of sky high prices that existed in Lisbon and Porto.
“These increases in the price of real estate have only happened because the government has not prepared alternatives and doesn’t even have a consistent housing policy, which it should have had as we do in Madeira”, he said.
The Council of Ministers has approved a housing package in a bid to ease the affordable housing crisis that has become a serious situation for the middle classes in Portugal as it emerged that in Lisbon only one house was built for every 10 sold.
At last year’s Web Summit in November, António Costa admitted the possibility of scrapping the Golden Visa which has attracted many foreigners to invest in property in Portugal, mostly in Lisbon, saying that the programme has now fulfilled its function.
On Friday, the weekly newspaper Expresso had reported that the programme would in fact end while Prime Minister António Costa published an opinion article in the newspaper Publico where he stated that the new Housing Package aimed to counter “speculation in the housing market”.
The Government is also preparing to create a new “permanent rental support mechanism” for families who have suffered from falling incomes.
The goal is to ensure that no young person or family will suffer an abrupt increase in their mortgage interest rate if they have an abrupt fall in their incomes because of situations like divorce, unemployment or illness.
Another change is that permits for Local Accommodation (Self-Catering Guest Houses) will no longer be permanent and will be valid for 10 years of even less. Permit renewal will depend on the ratio of accommodation supply and the need or permanent housing in the area. At present permits are issued on a permanent basis and remain valid until the houses are sold.
The government will also create tax sweeteners for builders and developers to build or do up existing housing for affordable rents. These tax incentives would be particularly aimed at owners of buildings or properties being used for Local Accommodation or for builders/owners who want to refurbish empty properties and put them on the rental market.
As to the Golden Visas: “Those that have already been issued and if they are solely for property, these visas will only be renewed in cases where the property is lived in by the owner or their descendants, or if the property has been put on the rental market for long period of time (if or when not occupied by the owner)”.
Photo: Regional Government of Madeira