RIGA, November 10 (Itar-Tass) - Latvia’s Saeima (parliament) will have re-consider amendments to the immigration law toughening the procedure of granting residence permits (RP) to foreigners in exchange for investments, after Presidenr Andris Berzins sent the document back to parliament for another discussion.
According to the president, these amendments are contradictory. Thus, on the one hand, the minimal cost of real estate a foreigner need to acquire to be granted a residence permit has been raised, while, on the other hand, a five-year residence permit is to granted for a sum of mere 50,000 euro. The existing system does need improvement but any quotas should be avoided, Berzins believes.
“After paying the fixed sum, foreigners will not be interested in further investments in the long-term perspective, since quotas will limit possibilities of further on-site monitoring and management of planned investments in Latvia,” the president said in a message to Saeima speaker Solvita Aboltina.
The president noted that this progarmme had had a generally positive effect on the country’s economy and had encourages foreign investments to the republic. “The programme of attracting foreign investors that has been in force since 2010 should be considered as a factor enhancing the country’s competitive edge,” the president noted.
Earlier, the nationalist party All for Latvia! Voiced criticism of the programme and warned it would block the 2014 budget, should the government continue “residency permit trading.” In the long run, a compromise solution was found. Under the new rules adopted by the Latvian parliament, a foreign investor is eligible for a five-year residence permit in case of paying a sum of 50,000 euro to the country’s budget. Apart from that, an annual quota of 700 real estate transactions worth more than 150,000 euro and 100 more transactions to a sum exceeding 500,000 euro is to take effect next year.
For these amendments to take effect they are to be endorsed by the Latvian president.
Over the programme’s life, foreign citizens’ investments in the Latvian economy neared 500 million lats (one billion U.S. dollars), with the citizens of former USSR countries being the most frequent applicants (95 percent).