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Thailand Wants Rich Foreigners, But Still Won’t Let Them Own House, Land

... Unless you've got 40 million baht to burn, of course.

Foreigners, even rich ones with 10-year visas, will be stuck in Bangkok condos, not houses, under new visa rules. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)
Foreigners, even rich ones with 10-year visas, will be stuck in Bangkok condos, not houses, under new visa rules. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)

Thailand may offer rich foreigners 10-year visas to invest and work here, but they still won’t be able to buy any land, the government said.

Responding to nationalist zealots on social media, Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Monday that new measures approved by the Cabinet last week to attract wealthy or highly skilled foreigners don’t include changes to any existing laws or regulations regarding land or property ownership.

Thai keyboard warriors criticized the economic-stimulus measures, likening them to selling land to foreigners and suggesting foreign devils will buy up the entire country.

Thanakorn curtly said the comments were made to make the government look bad and, instead of spreading “fake news”, troublemakers should actually read the regulations before commenting.

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.

Nothing in the new visa regulations changes that, Thanakorn said.

The economic-stimulus measures are only 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.

He said that, if the 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 and investment tax.

This story includes reporting from the National News Bureau of Thailand