By Moustafa Daly
Following a majority parliamentary approval for the housing bill in Portugal two weeks ago, the Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, just announced vetoing the bill, sending it back for further parliament deliberation and vote.
The Mais Habitação, or More Housing, bill ends the real-estate investment option in Portugal’s golden visa program.
“The veto is a political veto,” says Raquel de Matos Esteves, lawyer and founding partner at RME Legal. “The president disagrees with the measures of the package (most related to tourism accommodation activity and compelled lease),” she adds.
The president’s veto, however, doesn’t imply he views the bill as non-compliant with the Constitution – in which case he would have requested the constitutional court’s intervention, Esteves elaborates.
In effect, the veto merely prolongs the process of finalizing and applying the bill – giving golden visa investors another transitional month during which they can still pursue the golden visa under real estate investment terms.
“When the Parliament resumes work in the middle of September, they will vote again the diploma, reconfirming it – probably with no significant changes,” explains Sara Sousa Rebolo, partner at Prime Legal.
“And the president shall be obliged to approve it [after the second vote],” she affirms.
What happens to Portugal’s golden visa in September?
The Portuguese parliament is on its summer recess period, which ends in September 2023. Upon its return, the bill is expected to be approved once more, given the ruling party’s legislative majority.
As such, starting September, the real estate route will no longer be on the table. However, many other routes will continue to be available for investors.
Other options will include any investment that creates at least ten jobs in the local market, €500,000 contribution to research activities by public or private institutions, or €250,000 contribution to projects of artistic or cultural nature. When these investments or contributions are made in low-density territories, they can be subject to a 20% reduction.
More business and investment-oriented options include €500,000 acquisitions of shares in non-real-estate investments, or a similar investment intended for a “commercial company with headquarters in Portugal, combined with the creation of five permanent jobs,” explains Rebolo.
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