After the shock revelation that SEF borders agency had frozen Portugal’s winning golden visa programme since July 1 in frustration over legal minutiae, government ministers have scrambled to put things right.
According to reports from yesterday’s Council of Ministers all that’s needed now for the scheme that has seen over €1.5 billion worth of foreign investment in Portugal is President Cavaco Silva’s approval and publication of such in the State newspaper Diário da República.
Minister for the Presidency Luís Marques Guedes (pictured) explained last night that it was vital that golden visa processing returned to “normality” as in comparison to other countries Portugal’s programme had been a “success”.
It would be “lamentable” if – “because of the vicissitudes of a police investigation” – we lost this investment train to other countries, he added.
Now the government’s hastily-prepared new “decreto regulamentar” will define, once and for all, the section of the Foreigners Law (Lei dos Estrangeiros) that alludes to “Residency authorisations for Investment”.
The new clause has been devised to “reinforce wider investment opportunities while at the same time safeguard internal and external checking procedures”, explains Jornali.
As a Resident source explained earlier this week, the belief among high-end operators in the property sector is that the legal changes will “actually make the whole golden visa programme better”.
The scheme had been running at full-tilt – issuing as many as 80 fast-track residency permits a month – until scandal descended upon it late last year in a corruption case that led to multiple arrests and is still ongoing.
The issuing of visas plummeted “in a significant way”, explains Publico today – with as few as six visas being authorised in May and only 35 in June.
Meantime, the syndicate that represents SEF workers is not happy – saying the declarations of its director earlier this week did not fully explain why SEF had frozen the golden visa programme.
Demanding an “urgent public explanation”, the syndicate said what is at stake is “the good name and prestige of hundreds of zealous workers who were confronted by contradictory directives and constant changes” in the way they were expected to process applications.
Throughout the brouhaha, the self-styled “Father of Golden Visas” deputy prime minister Paulo Portas has been nowhere to be seen.
The tongue-in-cheek news portal Algarvedailynews suggests this is because “Portas only likes to be associated with good news stories that involve wide media coverage and with luck, a good lunch”.