Portugal may scrap controversial 'golden visa' scheme, says PM Costa

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By Euronews  with EFE, Reuters
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks to the media in London in June.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks to the media in London in June.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File

Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa has said that the country plans to scrap a controversial "golden visa" scheme.

Costa said that the "vistos gold" scheme may have "fulfilled" its objective to improve Portuguese industry and innovation.

The initiative -- launched in 2012 -- allows wealthy foreigners to obtain residency by investing in Portuguese companies or purchasing real estate.

But the programme has been widely criticised in Portugal for contributing to rising property prices.

European Union officials have also expressed concerns that such programmes can be a possible source of money laundering and corruption.

"We are evaluating whether the programme makes sense," Costa told reporters on Wednesday. "[It] has probably already fulfilled its function and there is no justification for maintaining it."

He gave no further details about when a decision on the "vistos gold" scheme would be made.

Over the last decade, Portugal has granted 11,180 residence permits to wealthy foreign citizens in exchange for around €6.5 billion in investment.

Around 92% of the money -- mainly from China, Brazil, and South Africa -- has gone into real estate.

Costa said that the government was hoping to attract people to the country with a new digital nomad initiative that will grant one-year residency permits to foreign professionals with a high monthly income.

Portugal wants to be an "open country where everyone is welcome and can develop their life projects", he said.