“Green Visas” Scheme
The Parliament of the Portuguese Republic has turned down a bill proposed by the opposition parties to abolish the Golden Visa Scheme. The opposition came up with the bill after a report of the anti-corruption organization Transparency International.
The report concluded that the Golden Visa schemes are a gateway to Europe for corrupt people and money laundering. The majority of these investors are from the Americas, China, Russia and Turkey. According to it, 95% of total investment from this scheme has been in properties “which has contributed to increase the pressure on the real estate market and little contribution to job creation“.
An attempt of the two far-left Portuguese parties to get rid of the scheme through a motion at the parliament failed. Instead, the MPs voted pro the widening of the scheme by adding a new category called “green visas”.
Andre Silva, a lawmaker from the PAN animal-rights and environmental party, said that it is important for Portugal to create a new scheme that would attract foreigners to invest in areas of ecological nature.
“Taking into consideration the importance of reinforcing a multicultural and open society …it’s important to create an additional scheme to attract foreign investment of an ecological nature,” he said in front of the parliament.
The new category of Golden Visa will permit foreigners to obtain Portuguese residency if they invest a minimum of €500,000 in organic agriculture, ecotourism, renewable energy and other environmental projects.
On the other side, Transparency International Portugal’s (TI PT) President Joao Paulo Batalha argued that the ‘Green Visa” could create more risks since they are not clearly defined, nor is the procedure to certify that these investments are being made.
“If approved on a second, final vote, this could create even more risks, beyond those that have been identified by Transparency International, without even ensuring that the investment is in fact coming into the country,” he concluded.
The Portuguese Golden visas offer residency to foreigners, who invest in properties, set up tech companies and create new jobs. A residency in Portugal permits one to travel throughout the whole Schengen Area and further.
The European Commission has been warned on the possibility of these visas to be misused by criminals and the corrupt. That is why the Commission is planning on guiding the member states that run such schemes on how to manage them, including background checks for applicants.