Portugal Golden Visa Lives to See Another Budget as Parliament Votes Against Closing Program

During a session of proposals for amendments to the 2023 State Budget law yesterday, Portugal’s Parliament voted against a Communist Party (PCP) proposal to terminate the country’s golden visa program.

Of particular note is that the Socialist Party (PS) of Prime Minister António Costa – who earlier this month perturbed market observers by hinting that the program had like run its course and that he considered closing it – voted against the proposal.

The Social Democrats (PSD) and right-wing Chega (“Enough”) also voted against the proposal, while, Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc), Livre, and PAN cast votes in favor. Liberal Initiative (IL) abstained from voting. The Socialists also struck down an additional proposal by PAN for the government to prepare and deliver to the Assembly “a report evaluating the impact of the program” as it pertained to “job creation, geographic distribution, origins of investments, and inequality in access to the country according to income.”

In its original proposal, the Communists had argued that “contrary to the publicized objective of attracting investment and job creation, the data show that, of the more than EUR 6 billion invested to obtain a residence permit, more than 90% went to buy real estate, focused especially in Lisbon, Porto, Cascais, and other coastal areas.”

The party had further maintained that the program had given rise to "almost no productive investment or job creation," and that it had instead contributed to "real estate speculation and the creation of difficulties in the housing rental market."

The Communists, echoing the views of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said residence permits should not be "the object of commercialization" and that such rights should instead accrue to those who "live and work in Portugal, whether or not an investor."

Yesterday's rejection of the proposal to abolish the program accords with the predictions Porto-based lawyer Pedro Catão Pinheiro made three weeks ago:

"I don't see any reason why this would be included in the budget law for 2023," he commented at the time, pointing out that, in his estimate, any possible impacts of a re-evaluation of the golden visa would not felt until 2024, at the earliest.