Thailand: Govt bows to pressure on foreign land buyers

The cabinet yesterday approved a request by the Interior Ministry to withdraw a controversial bill on land ownership by foreigners, said official spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.

Due to a chorus of disapproval, the draft was withdrawn to facilitate a comprehensive study and gather public input to ensure the planned amendment would increase competitiveness and provide long-term economic benefits to the country, he said.

The move comes two weeks after the cabinet gave it the nod in the hope it would reinvigorate the economy.

Under the proposal, four select groups of foreigners with long-term resident visas could apply to buy up to 1 rai of land for residential purposes on the condition they invest at least 40 million baht for three years or longer.

Critics slammed the policy, accusing the government of putting the country up for sale.

Meanwhile, those who voiced support for the scheme urged caution and called for strict measures to regulate land buying and holding. They suggested the amount of investment and time period should be increased, and that foreigners should be prohibited from buying plots next to each other to avoid land grabs.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday the draft regulation was shelved pending public input and further deliberation from all stakeholders.

“It was cancelled so that contentious issues can be sorted out. Actually, we’re still in the process of gathering public opinion. It hasn’t come into force,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the land proposal was an improved version of the 2002 regulation as it made clear only four groups with long-term visas would be eligible to buy land.

However, the Interior Ministry decided to shorten the period of investment from five to three years to make the scheme more attractive.

The ministry could switch back to five years when the draft is resubmitted for the cabinet’s consideration, Mr Wissanu said.

In addition to the 2002 regulation on foreign land ownership, foreigners can purchase and own 49% of condo units under a foreign quota as part of the condominium law.

They can also hold a long-term land lease for up to 90 years for agricultural and industrial purposes, according to Mr Wissanu.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda declined to say yesterday if the land proposal would be resubmitted to the cabinet.

Pakorn Nilprapunt, secretary-general of the Office of the Council of State, said public opinion would be sought for a maximum of 15 days.

Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/2433137/govt-bows-to-pressure-on-foreign-land-buyers