Thailand abandons plans to allow foreigners to own land

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A pool villa in Pattaya. File Photo. fokke baarssen / shutterstock

Thailand has abandoned plans to allow foreigners to own land for residential purposes after it triggered a public backlash.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet agreed with a proposal by the Interior Ministry to pull the plans, with government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri stating that further reviews are needed, with the government intending to analyse public opinion on the matter.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the plans had not been scrapped completely, but that a review is required in order to address public concerns.

In October, the plans were endorsed by Mr Prayut’s Cabinet in order to allow expats with long term visas to own land for housing.

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The plans were part of wider measures aimed at attracting more foreign investment into the country in a bid to boost the country’s post pandemic economic recovery.

Under the proposals, professionals, high net worth individuals and ‘wealthy’ retirees would be allowed to purchase up to 1 rai of land provided they invested at least 40 million baht into Thailand for a period of at least three years.

Investments could be made in the form of state bonds, real estate or infrastructure funds, or real estate investment trusts, the government had said.

But the plans drew widespread opposition, with critics accusing the country of trying to “sell off” Thailand. Others said the move would further reduce the prospects of landless Thais ever being able to own their own homes.

Critics also said that the 40 million baht investment requirement would not help boost the economy as intended.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda described the matter as “delicate”, saying that further studies would be needed in order to ascertain the pros and cons of the plans.

Thailand has recently introduced a number of measures aimed at luring foreign investment into the country. In addition to the plans regarding land ownership, the most notable of these has been the launch of the Long-Term Resident (LTR) visa.

The 10 year LTR visas are offered across four categories: Wealthy Global Citizens, Wealthy Pensioners, Work-from-Thailand Professionals, and Highly-Skilled Professionals.

“Thailand is introducing a new visa called “Long-Term Resident (LTR Visa)” which is a program that provides a range of tax and non-tax benefits to enhance the country’s attractiveness as a regional hub for living and doing business for ‘high-potential’ foreigners,” according to the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI).

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