Margao: The Union government’s exercise to examine the issue of Indian and Portuguese citizenship under the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, in the state has come a cropper even as there is no let-up in the demand for Portuguese passports with nearly 1,000-1,500 applications being processed from Salcete taluka alone every year.
An estimated over 55,000 Goans are currently enjoying dual citizenship of India and Portugal and holding ‘Bilhete de Identidade de Cidadão Nacional (National Citizen Identity Card) issued by the Portuguese authority.
Highly placed sources said that while the entire process takes a few years, an average of 1,000 to 1,200 applications are received each year, mostly from youth and eventually families also move out.
Speaking exclusively to this daily, NRI Commissioner Narendra Sawaikar said that applications were invited from the people for those willing to give up their passport or the Portuguese citizenship through the Collectors in North and South Goa. However, the scheme had very little response with only a few people approaching the authorities.
He said that there is a tendency among people to move abroad seeking job opportunities especially in European countries and hence despite Brexit, the Portuguese passport still remains attractive for people, especially the youth.
The NRI Commissioner said that the Portuguese passport is a privilege, which has been offered under a provision of law which we have adopted after the Liberation of the state in 1961. He said unless the Act is amended or the issue of dual citizenship is addressed, people will avail of the benefits. He, however, said that he is unable to comment on whether there is any plan to amend the Act to stop Goans from leaving the country.
Sources further stated that the rise in the number of people applying for Portuguese citizenship was witnessed after 1986 when Portugal became a member of EU with England becoming an attractive destination. An official said that even the Brexit has not been a dampener and the numbers continue to swell.
Sawaikar said people mostly move out for either job opportunities or the for higher education. He said in the long run, unless sufficient job opportunities are provided in the state, people will continue to move out of the state. Several politicians, police officers and bureaucrats are under the scanner for holding Portuguese citizenship.