Developers defend Cyprus golden visa scheme after scandal

Pedro Gonçalves
Developers defend Cyprus golden visa scheme after scandal

The Association of Large Property Developers has asked for the public criticism around Cyprus' golden visa scheme to halt as the row is hurting the economy.

"Recent reports combined with the ongoing row within the country, have taken their toll on the investment environment, which has also been struck by the coronavirus outbreak," the Association of Large Property Developers said in a statement.

With the economy in a big downturn because of the Covid-19 pandemic, amid lockdown and tourists shying away from the island, interest in purchasing properties has tumbled.

Everyone’s goal is to set up a serious and credible Investment Program which cannot be questioned by anyone, either at home or abroad"

"The appointment of a committee to probe into the issue, combined with the government's commitment to redesign and improve the institutional framework of the Investment Program, deems any further discussion of the issue unnecessary," the statement added.

Cyprus' has faced accusations for selling golden visas, granting European Union citizenship and residency to persons included in criminal activities, corruption, and money laundering.

According to Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit, named "The Cyprus Papers", a total of 1,400 wealthy internationals and their 1,100 family members have bought Cyprus citizenship, from 2017 to 2019 through the Cyprus Investment Program.

Cyprus large property developers feel that the scheme has contributed significantly to the economic growth of the country and "therefore, we must all protect it, safekeeping it as the apple of our eye".

George Mouskides,  chairman of the Cyprus Property Owners Association, told The Financial Mirror: "We are talking about the scheme that pulled the Cyprus economy out of recession in 2013, breathing new life into the construction industry, and by default into the country's economy," he said.

"The scheme had a trickle-down effect on the majority of economic sectors," argued Mouskides.

"What we in the real estate industry are hoping for, is that politicians will not turn the issue of unflattering reports on Cyprus' CIS to kill the program that has given so much to the country," without giving his sense of what should be done to prevent visas from being sold to criminals.

In the announcement, developers declare their readiness to contribute with additional proposals and suggestions towards improving the institutional framework, "to make it simpler and more functional".

"Everyone's goal is to set up a serious and credible Investment Program which cannot be questioned by anyone, either at home or abroad."

The Golden Visa Scheme enables internationals to buy citizenship of Cyprus, providing that they make a minimum of 2.15 million euros ($2.5m) investment in Cyprus.


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