New foreign land ownership law in Thailand can be scrapped if Thais don’t agree

If Thai people aren’t happy with the newly proposed foreign land ownership law in Thailand, the whole plan can be scrapped, said Minister of Interior General Anupong Paochinda in Parliament yesterday.

“We can improve the regulation, such as by increasing the investment to 100 million baht. The plan can be scrapped if people have serious concerns. We won’t see it as a loss of face.”

The interior ministry’s draft regulation proposes that foreigners can own a house/up to one rai of land (1600 square metres) in Thailand providing the following requirements are met…

  1. Foreigners who qualify to purchase land for residential purposes include wealthy foreigners with at least US$1 million in assets, pensioners with a minimum annual income of US$80,000, remote workers for well-established companies, and skilled experts in targeted industries.
  2. The land must be located in Bangkok, Pattaya, the municipality area of provinces nationwide, or other “residential zones.”
  3. The land must not be located in military exclusion zones.
  4. The owner must have a Long Term Resident (LTR) visa and invest at least 40 million baht in government bonds, real estate funds, infrastructure bonds, or real estate investment funds for at least three years.

The requirements are a tougher bill to foot when compared with the ministry’s 2002 foreign land ownership regulation approved by the Thaksin administration, which proposed that basically anyone could purchase a landed property anywhere in Thailand, so long as they invest 40 million baht into the country for at least five years.

The new draft has received criticism from the Pheu Thai Party which accused the Prayut administration of “selling off” the country to foreigners with the proposal.

In response, General Anupong said the draft was to lure in foreign investment and was not about “selling off” the country. However, if Thai people disagree with it, the draft can be cancelled, said Anupong.

The minister discussed the possibility of increasing the minimum investment from 40 to 100 million baht and the investment period from three to ten years. If Thais still aren’t happy, then cancel it, he said.

At present, foreigners are welcome to buy condos in Thailand so long as 51% of the units in the building are owned by Thai people.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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