ATHENS - The authorities in Greece have decided to increase the investment threshold for securing the Golden Visa in response to a surge of Chinese nationals purchasing properties in exchange for residency rights.
The country has announced new measures aimed at safeguarding locals from the resulting housing crisis as Golden Visa has seen a significant influx of Chinese buyers in recent years, prompting concerns about its impact on the local market.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis unveiled the government's plan to address the issue, raising the threshold of real estate investment required for residency from $269,491 to $862,372 in certain areas.
This move, Mitsotakis explained, aims to provide a much-needed boost to the economy while also protecting the integrity of the local housing market.
The proposal has garnered rare bipartisan support, with opposition leaders endorsing the plan in light of the housing shortage. Calls have been made to restrict foreign investors, particularly Chinese nationals, from profiting through short-term rentals instead of using properties for residential purposes, exacerbating the housing crisis for locals.
Residents in popular tourist areas, such as those near the Acropolis, have voiced concerns about the impact of the influx of tourists staying in leased apartments, driving up prices and making it increasingly difficult for locals to find affordable housing options.
Since the launch of the Golden Visa program in 2014, Greece has granted renewable residence permits to foreigners investing a minimum of nearly $270,000 in property. The program has seen a surge in popularity, with the number of permits issued quadrupling in the past year alone. Chinese nationals constitute the majority of beneficiaries, followed by Turks, Lebanese, and Israelis, according to data from the Bank of Greece.
It is also being reported that higher charges for Golden Visas will be imposed on properties in coveted locations such as central Athens and popular Greek islands like Mykonos and Santorini, which are particularly favored by Chinese investors.
Though the Golden Visa programs are popular all across the world, the housing crisis also invites criticism for the government. For Greece, one of the country’s main opposition parties (left-wing PASOK) called for the program’s termination, citing the soaring property prices.
Recently, Portugal also ended its Golden Visa program after the housing crisis skyrocketed in some areas.
The Commission of the European Union has stressed all countries that run such schemes to terminate them as soon as possible as it provides shelter to criminals and those involved in any illegal activity.
Pakistani currency remains largely stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 24, 2024.
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.5 for buying and 282.55 for selling.
On Saturday, Euro stands at 302 for buying and 305 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 352.5 for buying, and 356 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.1 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.35.
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