Predicted ‘massive recourse to courts’ begins
Just as observers predicted, the push-back by investors to the government’s decision to axe the golden visa residency programme, with no official warning or time scale, offered to applications already underway, has begun.
A new website, Justice4PTGVInvestors.com, has been launched, under the banner “investors deserve fair treatment”.
The ultimate goal is to gather enough in the way of supporters – investors who already have golden visas issued, and those whose applications is ‘in the process’ – to successfully challenge the decision taken on the back of the hugely controversial ‘Mais Habitação’ (More Housing) programme – which has still not been debated in parliament, or rubber stamped by President Marcelo.
The development comes as constitutionalists have warned a number of measures – this one included – are ‘illegal’ and unconstitutional; and as the president himself has suggested the whole ‘Mais Habitação’ blueprint is doomed, in spite of the government’s ‘absolute majority’ in parliament.
It also arrives just as in the wider context figures are questioning the authority of the Socialist government: the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the management of State-held airline TAP has thrown up inconsistency after inconsistency, suggesting political leaders have a very loose grip on the truth, or even on the notion of integrity.
Thus, this latest thrust of protest – this time from the private sector, following months of strikes and fury from the public sector – adds ‘another brick in the wall of discontent’ that is clearly building throughout the country.
Says the new site: “We believe that it is not right to change the law in a way that significantly alters the terms of the program, particularly after investors have already made their investments in good faith. The changes to the golden visa program threaten to undermine the trust and confidence that investors have placed in Portugal‘s legal and regulatory system. We believe that this is not only unfair to current investors, but also sends a worrying message to potential investors who may be considering investing in Portugal in the future.
“At Justice4PTGVInvestors.com, we are committed to seeking justice through all legal avenues available. We believe that Portugal has a fair and just judiciary system, and we will work tirelessly to challenge the changes to the golden visa program that will negatively impact the investors”.
Encouraging people to sign a petition to this effect, there is also space on the site for investors to ‘share their stories’; give their opinions on the axing of a scheme that has brought the country billions in terms of revenue and investment since it began in 2012.
A message from what appears to be a founding investor explains:”I am deeply frustrated and disappointed by the recent changes to the program (…) the changes to the golden visa program seem to go against the very values that Portugal stands for – fairness, openness, and democracy. Investors like me believed that we were making a positive contribution to Portugal’s economy and society, and that our investments would be protected by a fair and just legal system. Now, we feel let down and frustrated that the terms of the program have been changed without any regard for the impact on investors. I am not alone in my frustration and disappointment – thousands of investors have already expressed their concerns and opposition to these changes. We are calling on the Portuguese government to listen to our concerns and to work with us to find a solution that is fair and just for all investors. We believe that Portugal has the potential to be a world leader in promoting investor rights and protecting investments, and we urge the government to seize this opportunity and do the right thing. As an investor who loves Portugal and believes in its future, I am determined to seek fairness and justice. I urge all investors to join me to achieve this goal”.
An email drop went out last night, with a petition dependent on people signing up to the cause before being able to put their names to it.
There is also another petition gathering signatures on the petição pública site, entitled “For the defence of the image and reputation of Portugal with foreign investors”.