Gold’ visa program “increased corruption risks” in Portugal

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The ‘gold’ visa program in Portugal “increased corruption risks” and “put pressure on the real estate market,” indicates the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2022, of the organization Transparency International (TI).

In the latest edition of the CPI, Portugal is criticised for postponing the abolition of that “controversial programme”, as well as for having launched the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (ENAC) “without guidelines or monitoring plan”, considering that the application of anti-corruption measures in the country is “weak” and “slow”.

“The national results of the Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 reflect, in line with those of previous years, a weak and stagnant anti-corruption fight, with perceived levels of increased risk of corruption and also a lack of transparency and control in the defense sector and national security,” said Nuno Cunha Rolo, president of TI’s representative in Portugal, quoted in the release of the study.

In the latter case, the global anti-corruption coalition considers that the defense sector needs greater transparency and oversight, noting that “secretive procurement processes and insufficient financial transparency practices weaken safeguards against corruption in national defense institutions.

In last year’s index, Portugal is evaluated among the countries of Western Europe and the European Union as a whole, scoring 62 points, ranging from 0 (perceived as very corrupt) to 100 (very transparent).

Portugal maintains the score of 2021 and remains below the average of its region (66 points), but moves down one place from 32nd to 33rd position.

With the same number of points and in the same position is Lithuania, after Israel and South Korea (both with 63 points) and before Botswana (60 points).

Nuno Cunha Rolo believes that Portugal’s results “stem from the continued inability of successive governments and rulers to perceive the immense wealth of leadership and anti-corruption policies that are open, transparent, participative and with integrity, both in the political and administrative system, as well as in sectors of the economy and society.

“All of these contribute greatly to a fairer, safer, more peaceful, inclusive and developed country” and “the recent cases that have been occurring in the media at a dizzying pace are largely due to the lack of political will and vision – in the government and in parliament – regarding anti-corruption, transparency and integrity,” he adds.

Transparency International Portugal says that it had already alerted to “the deficiencies” of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, namely “for almost completely ignoring the issue of political corruption”.

The CPI 2022 reveals that the region that Portugal is part of is again the one that has the best score (66 out of 100), but warns that “progress has stalled in most countries” that make it up and that “the changing security landscape, since the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and a looming recession require robust responses from governments.”

It considers that “undue influence over decision-making, inadequate enforcement of integrity safeguards, and threats to the rule of law are undermining the effectiveness of governments.”

According to Transparency International, “the region is at a crossroads” and policymakers need to “move beyond piecemeal anti-corruption measures” to overcome the current crises and enable development.

Overall, the CPI for the past year “shows that despite concerted efforts and many hard-won gains, progress against corruption cannot be taken for granted.”

“The scale of the problem is enormous: the global average remains unchanged – with a score of 43 out of 100 for the 11th consecutive year – and more than two-thirds of countries (122) have a serious corruption problem, with a score below 50.”

In the 2022 index, Denmark (90 points) once again takes the top spot, followed by New Zealand and Finland (both with 87 points), while the last places remain occupied by Syria, South Sudan (13) and Somalia (12).

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the lowest average score (32), after Eastern Europe and Central Asia (35).

“Corruption has made our world a more dangerous place. As governments have collectively failed to make progress in this area, they have ended up fueling the current rise in violence and conflict – putting citizens in danger,” says Delia Ferreira Rubio, president of Transparency International, quoted in the statement.

The responsible adds that “the only way out” is the States work hard, “eradicating corruption at all levels” and “ensuring that governments work for all people and not just for a small elite”.

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