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Cabinet backs expats owning land

BUSINESS: The Cabinet yesterday (Oct 25) approved the Interior Ministry’s proposals to allow foreigners to hold land ownership of up to one rai (roughly 0.16 hectares) for residential purposes, though critics warned the move may trigger land speculation by foreign investors.

Wednesday 26 October 2022, 12:45PM


A sign advertising land for sale in the Phahon Yothin area of Bangkok. Mr Anucha says the land slated for foreign ownership should be located in Bangkok, the Pattaya area, the municipalities of all provinces nationwide, and residential zones. Photo: Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn

A sign advertising land for sale in the Phahon Yothin area of Bangkok. Mr Anucha says the land slated for foreign ownership should be located in Bangkok, the Pattaya area, the municipalities of all provinces nationwide, and residential zones. Photo: Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn

According to government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri, the weekly Cabinet meeting approved in principle a draft regulation of the Interior Ministry regarding land ownership by foreigners, allowing four groups of rich foreign nationals - wealthy global citizens, wealthy pensioners, people who want to work from Thailand, and highly skilled professionals or specialists - to buy and own land for residences.

The proposal marks a departure from long-standing laws limiting land and property purchases, except condominiums, to Thais or people married to Thais, reports the Bangkok Post.

Over a period of five years - from now through 2026 - the government hopes to attract more than a million wealthy expats to Thailand.

The government estimates the scheme will inject more than B1 trillion into the economy, with an uptick of B800 billion in investment and B270bn through revenue collection.

According to Mr Anucha, the land slated for foreign ownership should be located in Bangkok, the Pattaya area, the municipalities of all provinces nationwide, and areas stipulated as residential zones according to the Town and Country Planning Act.

Qualified foreign nationals must invest B40 million in Thai property, securities or funds to participate in the scheme. They are required to invest in real estate or infrastructure funds, real estate investment trusts, securities, or enterprises promoted by the Board of Investment.

If participants withdraw their investment before the designated period, their land ownership rights must be revoked, he said. The proposed scheme becomes effective after publication in the Royal Gazette.

The scheme would be reviewed after five years, said Mr Anucha.

“The proposed scheme aligns with the government’s economic and investment stimulus plans to attract wealthy foreigners and professionals to Thailand. This is expected to help draw foreign investment and stimulate the Thai economy,” he said.

Land grab unwelcome

Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry, disagrees with the Cabinet’s decision, citing the possible impact on future land purchases made by locals as well as land ownership issues.

Thai Residential

“Thailand may be headed for trouble involving land speculation, meaning locals may be unable to afford to purchase land because of higher prices,” he said. “We are worried about Chinese investors. They already bought and own plots of land in Cambodia and Laos.”

Mr Tanit said he understands the government wants to stimulate the economy by offering land ownership to foreigners to draw investment, but he said there are other ways to ramp up the economy.

“Why didn’t the government consider granting Thai nationality to foreigners who can apply their technological expertise to help the nation develop high technology at the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)?” said Mr Tanit.

The EEC is a government scheme to develop a high-tech industrial hub with the potential to draw foreign direct investment, spanning parts of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces.

In contrast, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said earlier the land ownership policy could be a positive economic stimulus. FTI chairman Kriengkrai Thiennukul said many wealthy foreigners, notably those in business, would enjoy a long stay here for retirement.

Domestic tourism operators will benefit if this policy can attract more foreigners, he said.

Sanan Angobulkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the scheme is not new as it was used following the Tom Yum Kung crisis to stimulate foreign investment and revive the economy.

“The scheme was successful back then in resuscitating the economy. We hope it can revitalise the property market and the Thai economy,” he said.

The chamber projects the scheme to draw investment of at least B100bn a year.

The cabinet also approved the Oil Fuel Fund securing loans worth a combined B150bn to boost its liquidity. Mr Anucha said the loans will be divided into two phases, with the first worth B30bn via two batches between December and February, and the second worth B120bn divided into six batches ending in July 2023.

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Capt B | 30 October 2022 - 13:05:44

,,,,You are better off renting. Easier to bail out. 

Capt B | 30 October 2022 - 13:03:43

,,,,,just for basics. Thai Nationalism & their economic policies will send many broke. THAI BANK: "Put your house in your wife's name & we'll lend you as much as you want". I may be mad, but I'm not fu**in stupid.  Fed up. Almost time to sell up & escape from Alcatraz. So much for my good intentions of helping the Thai People. Want to live in Thailand, you are bet...

Capt B | 30 October 2022 - 12:46:18

Thailand's Biggest Debt Crisis Explained. ENTIRE SCALE THAILAND'S HOUSEHOLD DEBT: 14.6 TRILLION THB. AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD IN THE COUNTRY HAS MORE DEBT THAN ITS ANNUAL SALARY AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD IN THE COUNTRY HAS MORE DEBT THAN ITS P.A. SALARY. AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD DEBT: 501K THB. AVERAGE INCOME PER HOUSEHOLD: 27.353K THB PM.
Warning: House, Thai Wife & 2 x Thai Sons, Costs me over 1M THB PA ...

christysweet | 29 October 2022 - 10:51:11

Cabinet wants the advantages of a free market,  but imposes restrictions on certain purchasers? Ripe for corruption- go back  to Economics 101. 

Kurt | 28 October 2022 - 10:47:35

Who invented the idea to request foreigner to 'invest' B40 million in order to be able to own just 1 Rai of land ( 0.16 hectares) which is partly below house, rest for carport/garden? Scheme to be reviewed/flip flopped in 5 years time. We foreigners know what that means. The usual untrustful insecurity.

Kurt | 28 October 2022 - 09:44:33

See the  sky rocketing land prices since after the Tsunami. All Thai <--> Thai selling/buying. So, were the fear from when it comes to foreigners who are not investors, just like to own the land below their property? Do I miss something with this constant cultivated false claim?

Capricornball | 27 October 2022 - 19:14:10

I agree with Tanit Sorat, wealthy Chinese and westerners will be the ones scarfing up land, resulting in the average Thai getting priced out of the market. Makes sense though, as cabinet members and their contractor family members and cronies will be getting fatter and richer selling off their country to the highest bidder. Resentment towards foreigners will grow significantly.

JohnC | 27 October 2022 - 09:11:15

Always the same old story. We only want rich foreigners here (or just their money more accurately). The prices on land in most tourism areas are already way too expensive for 90% of locals to afford and that is because the wealthier Thais sell their land to the highest bidder rather than their own country folk. Do not blame foreigners for the greed of your own people.

 

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