Rather than over-extend your indulgence, it should be said upfront that the number of NAMA properties or indeed any other properties bought by non-Irish nationals in return for a visa, is NIL. This follows the launch of two schemes in January 2012 by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter. When announcing the schemes, the Minister said visas would be made available in return for investment in Irish business, investment in a bond issued by the NTMA or the purchase of Irish property including property in the NAMA portfolio.
So how many thousands of visas have been issued and how much have the wealthy foreigners invested in Ireland?
Well, hold onto your seats. So far, three visas have been issued – one to someone from North America, one for Africa and one for Asia. And how much property have these three furriners bought? Err, none actually. And how many millions have they shoveled into the national coffers by buying NTMA bonds? Again, none, nada, nichevo. What the three have done is committed to invest at least €75,000 in an Irish business over the next five years.
In fairness to the hapless minister, he has overseen the creation of the new bond at the NTMA which pays 1% per annum for a fixed five-year term. Shocking really, that none of the three amigos have bought any of said bonds.
Spain has recently announced that it may sell property to Russian and Chinese nationals in return for visas; this after Spain claiming it has at least 700,000 vacant homes after its Irish-like construction boom in the 2000s. Based on the Irish experience, the Spanish shouldn’t bank on making any real dent in its property stock from such initiatives.
Minister Shatter was responding to parliamentary questions on Tuesday this week from the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty. The full exchange is show here, and it should be available shortly online at the Oireachtas website.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to his announcement on 24 January 2012 of the Immigrant Investor Programme and Start-up Entrepreneur Programme; the number of visas issued to date with respect to both programmes, and an analysis of visa numbers by country of origin of visa recipients..
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to his announcement on 24 January 2012 of the Immigrant Investor Programme and Start-up Entrepreneur Programme; if he will provide an update on the creation of the special low interest Irish bond, referred to in his announcement.
Deputy Pearse Doherty:To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to his announcement on 24 January 2012 of the Immigrant Investor Programme and Start-up Entrepreneur Programme; the overall volume and value of property sold to date by the National Asset Management Agency to visa recipients..
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to his announcement on 24 January 2012 of the Immigrant Investor Programme and Start-up Entrepreneur Programme; the overall total investment to date in Irish business by visa recipients..
Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter: The Immigrant Investor Bond is one of the investment options available to potential candidates for the Immigrant Investor Programme which has been open for applications since April of this year. Details of the bond can be viewed in the Guidelines for the programme which are available from the web-page of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, http://www.inis.gov.ie. The bond has a term of 5 years and pays an annual interest rate of 1%. The bond has been created by the National Treasury Management Agency and cannot be traded or transferred during its term.
Details of the options on property investment are also outlined in the Guidelines for the Immigrant Investor Programme. My officials inform me that, to date, no candidates have applied for consideration of investments in property or bonds as eligible investments under the Programme.
On foot of recommendations from the Evaluation Committee meeting of 9 August 2012, I have approved immigration permissions for one successful applicant under the Immigrant Investor Programme and two successful applicants under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme. The Deputy will be aware that I cannot give details of individual immigration cases, however I will say that the three successful candidates originate from North America, Africa and Asia. Both projects under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme fulfilled the requirement for a minimum of €75,000 funding for their respective high potential start-ups. The investment proposal in an existing Irish business approved under the Immigrant Investor Programme significantly exceeded the requirements of the scheme.
My officials have informed me that the Evaluation Committee will meet later this week to consider four applications under the Immigrant Investor Programme and thirteen applications under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service continues to receive a significant level of inquiries on these programmes.