Portugal's PM Antonio Costa to scrap its "golden visa" program

Costa said Portugal wanted to continue to be attractive, with one example being its recent law, enacted on Monday, that created the so-called digital nomads visa.
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks as he attends the European Union leaders' summit in Brussels, Belgium October 20, 2022.
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks as he attends the European Union leaders' summit in Brussels, Belgium October 20, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

By Catarina Demony

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal is likely to scrap its "golden visa" programme giving wealthy foreigners residence rights, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday, saying that the 10-year-old scheme had already fulfilled its role.

The Authorisation of Residence for Investment Activity for people from non-EU countries, commonly known as the golden visa programme, has been heavily criticised at home for sending house prices and rents up, and the European Commission has called for the end of such national schemes.

In Portugal, it has attracted 6.5 billion euros in investment by foreigners, mainly from China, Brazil and South Africa, with the bulk of the money going into real estate. Rules have changed this year to redirect investments from a red-hot property market in big cities to depopulated areas.

Speaking at Lisbon's Web Summit, Europe's largest tech event, Costa said several visa schemes offered by Portugal were currently being re-evaluated and the golden visa was one of them.

"(It) probably has already fulfilled the role it had to fulfil and, at this moment, is no longer justified to keep it", Costa told reporters.

An official decision would be announced when the evaluation is completed, he said.

Costa said Portugal wanted to continue to be attractive, with one example being its recent law, enacted on Monday, that created the so-called digital nomads visa. It gives foreigners with high monthly income from remote work to live and work from Portugal for a year.

The European Commission has called on EU governments to end national programmes to sell citizenship to investors, which the bloc has long considered a security risk.

Britain scrapped golden visas for rich investors in February amid concerns about the inflow of illicit Russian money, just before Russia's invasion of Ukraine that brought on unprecedented Western sanctions against Moscow.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Additional reporting by Patricia Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)

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