Crisis-hit Sri Lanka to sell long-term ‘golden’ visas: Report

Foreigners who deposit $100,000 locally will be granted permission to live and work in Sri Lanka for 10 years, says the report.

Sri Lanka protests
A vendor sells Sri Lankan national flags at a protest site near the president's office in Colombo [Ishara S Kodikara/AFP]

Cash-strapped Sri Lanka has announced it would sell long-term visas to attract desperately needed foreign currency, says a report, as the island nation runs out of dollars to pay for food and fuel.

Foreigners who deposit a minimum of $100,000 locally will be granted permission to live and work in Sri Lanka for 10 years under the Golden Paradise Visa Programme, the government said on Tuesday, according to the AFP news agency.

The money should be locked in a local bank account for the duration of the stay, the government said in a statement.

“This scheme will help Sri Lanka at a time when we are facing the worst financial crisis since our independence,” media minister Nalaka Godahewa told reporters in Colombo.

The government also approved the granting of five-year visas to any foreigner spending a minimum of $75,000 to buy an apartment on the island.

Acute shortages of food, fuel and medicines have triggered widespread protests, with thousands of people camped outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s seafront office to demand his resignation.

Sri Lanka protests
Sri Lankan Muslims break their Ramadan fast while protesting near the president’s office in Colombo [Ishara S Kodikara/AFP]

The government has signalled a willingness to consider constitutional reforms that could pare back the authority of the president, who gave himself sweeping powers to appoint and sack ministers, judges and public servants after his 2019 election.

His government also rolled back democratic reforms that gave statutory independence to the police, civil service, election commission and the judiciary.

Sri Lanka’s economic collapse began to be felt after the coronavirus pandemic torpedoed vital revenue from tourism and remittances.

Utilities unable to pay for fuel imports have imposed lengthy daily blackouts to ration power, while long lines snake around service stations as people queue for petrol and kerosene.

Hospitals are short of vital medicines, the government has appealed to citizens abroad for donations and record inflation has added to everyday hardships.

Sri Lankan officials arrived in the United States last week to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.

Source: AFP