Emigrés returning to Portugal to receive up to €6,500

Plans to lure 1,500 emigrés back to Portugal hit a brick wall

Plans to lure 1500 emigrés back to Portugal – by offering them cash incentives – have hit the brick wall that critics always anticipated.

The government decided earlier this week that if Programa Regressar is to work, it needs to have a bit of extra sparkle.

As things stand right now, only 71 people have been ‘persuaded home’, explains Reuters.

Thus changes drawn up include “easing the deadline by which returnees must apply”.

But will this make any difference?

“Convincing Portuguese living abroad to come home has been one of the Socialist government’s priorities since it came to power at the end of 2015”, stresses the news agency, explaining that during the crisis years under the previous centre-right administration, nearly 600,000 work-age Portuguese fled the country, seeking employment opportunities and ‘a better life’ elsewhere.

Despite the Socialists’ plans to start attracting emigrés home, a further 260,000 nationals have left since 2015 – most of them the ‘most educated’ of this country’s workforce.

According to Reuters, it’s still hard to see whether even with the ‘tweaks’, Programa Regressar will make any difference at all.

For example many emigrés say the financial incentives – essentially around €650 in cash plus travelling expenses – are just “not enough”.

More importantly, the employment prospects back home are even less attractive.

Said a 25-year-old musician now living in London: ““People go abroad specifically because they’re going to earn more. Come back to Portugal, to earn less, on a small financial incentive? I can’t see anyone taking that up…”

Rodrigo Oliveira, 35, a supply chain planner who left Portugal in 2009 and now works in Switzerland, said: “I earn ten times the salary I would in Lisbon over here. Honestly, me and my Portuguese friends abroad, we laugh at programmes like this.”

At best it looks like Programa Regressar may entice home people whose lives have not really improved from have relocated abroad.

Says Reuters, the programme is “offered to returnees who secure a permanent work contract between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020”.

Originally, returning emigrés had to apply within 60-90 days of starting work and provide documents to prove their emigration status.

Under the new rules, the government says they can apply at any time, and has “eased up on documentation requirements”.

Candidates – who must have left Portugal before the end of December 2015 to be eligible – are expected to secure a permanent work contract before receiving the government’s funds.

This last stipulation may not be enough to keep this programme from floundering, but only time will tell.

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