Last week, a meeting of cabinet ministers approved measures to attract foreigners to help stimulate the Thai economy and investment. Among the measures is the issuance of long-term visas; people on social media have linked the issue with foreigners’ ability to own land and property while expressing concerns that foreigners may buy all the land in the country. The government has responded that foreigners’ right to buy or rent property is still subject to specific requirements, and has warned people not to distort related information.
Government Spokesman, Dr. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, said that the economic stimulus measures are aimed at drawing foreigners of high net worth to compensate for the drop-in tourist arrivals and revenues while stimulating investment in progressive industries in the country. The measures focus on four groups, including wealthy people, retirees, those wanting to work in Thailand and highly-skilled professionals. As a result, experts or highly-skilled workers in technology or future industries can support the national development by strengthening technological connectivity, transferring new knowledge, enhancing skills and capacity, and increasing job opportunities in the country. The issuance of long-term visas and changes to related rules and regulations will remove some challenges experienced by investors. An assessment will be conducted every five years.
Concerning comments on social media that link the issuance of long-term visas with foreigners’ right to buy or rent property in Thailand, while suggesting that it is like selling land to them, the Government Spokesman said that foreigners’ right to buy or rent property still complies with the existing requirements. Some groups are trying to distort information in order to criticize the government. All sides should open up and study the issue thoroughly and consider the benefits that the country will achieve.
According to Section 19 of the Condominium Act (2008), foreigners are permitted to own up to 49 percent of the building’s residential space, while the remaining 51 percent of the same area must be Thai owned.
Concerning land holdings, the law does not allow foreigners to buy a home or land in the country. However, Section 96 of the Land Code states that foreigners who invest a minimum of 40 million baht are permitted to buy up to 1,600 square meters of land for residential use, with the government’s permission. The owner is however, required to sell the land, if it is not put to residential use within two years.
If the government’s economic stimulus measures can draw a million foreign experts and those of high economic potential to the country in five years, economic benefit of 1 trillion baht will be created, with 800 billion baht from domestic spending and 270 billion baht from tax revenue collection. The funds result from personal income tax collection, value-added tax (VAT) and investment tax. (NNT)