According to a front page story published by the print edition of Diário de Notícias da Madeira earlier today (on Monday 17 April), the President of the Regional Government, Miguel Albuquerque has written to the President of the Republic to request an extension of the period during which the Golden Visa program can be offered in Madeira, invoking “equal treatment”.
At stake is estimated €540 million in foreign investment in the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira – and around €34 million in funding for artistic heritage projects and cultural production projects across all of Portugal’s territories, and low-density areas, in particular.
Albuquerque has previously come out in strong defense of the Golden Visa program, criticizing the mainland government’s plans.
He is on record in various media publications as saying that:
“It [the cancellation of the Golden Visa program] is bad for the national economy. Nothing justifies Madeira being covered by this set of measures that are fundamentally aimed at Lisbon and Porto.”
The Madeiran President stressed that the island wants to continue offering the Golden Visa Program to foreign investors, arguing that it significantly contributed to the Madeiran economy.
He also referred to the new measures announced under the government’s Mais Habitacao bill as counterproductive and “almost Venezuelan”.
In doing so, he added the regional government’s voice to the growing body of criticism of the Mais Habitacao bill, which effectively makes a straw man argument against the Golden Visa program.
And whilst most legal experts, industry players and even many housing activists that the shuttering of the Golden Visa may not alleviate the housing crisis (and may, in fact, exacerbate it), Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has seemed determined to ram through the logic-defying changes, no matter the cost to foreign investment and job creation.
This has led to some industry insiders speculating that he may be setting himself up for a career with the European Commission post politics, where his opposition to Golden Visa programs should be exceptionally well received.
Nonetheless, in the face of widespread criticism and under risk of class action lawsuits, the mainland government has backed down on many of the most egregious planned changes announced earlier.
The most notable change recently announced include:
- The government has undertaken to honour the (on average) 1 week per year minimum stay requirement for Golden Visa residency holders – which is simply holding up their part of the bargain from a contractual law perspective.
- The Cultural Golden Visa has been retained as an investment option – although much remains to be clarified in this regard.
- No further mention has been made about the need for Golden Visa property owners to either rent out their properties, or live in it full time, in order to renew their residency permits. (Which would violate their property rights, amongst other legal issues).
- The retroactive clause – which would see applicants who submitted their applications after February 16th of 2023 rendered ineligible to receive the Golden Visa – has also been dropped, given that enforcing it would be violating the Portuguese constitution.
Industry insiders are hopeful that the finally ratified bill may be even more watered down. Nonetheless, until such time as the new legal bill is adopted, the old regulations stand, and thus Golden Visa applicants have a very limited window of opportunity during which they can still apply.
This is a developing story, and we will update our readers as new official information is received. We include an image of the original DNoticias’ article (print edition) below: