The opposition Pheu Thai Party voiced its strong opposition today (Saturday) to the government’s plan to allow certain foreigners to buy up to *0.16 hectares (*one rai) of land for residential purposes, hoping that the scheme will boost foreign investment and spur the economy.
*A standard football pitch is 0.714 ha so 1 rai is about 1/4 of a football pitch
In its statement, the Pheu Thai Party warned that the foreign ownership of land will have extensive implications for the Thai people, at a time when many do not have a house or a piece of land of their own.
In the future, the party said that Thai people will have to pay more to buy land, because this policy of allowing foreigners to buy land in Thailand will lead to speculation.
On Tuesday, the cabinet approved an edict from the Interior Ministry, allowing certain qualified foreigners to buy up to 0.16 hectares in Bangkok, Pattaya and other municipalities and areas specified by law. The edict will be reviewed in five years.
Citing a similar edict issued in 2003, during the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of the Thai Rak Thai Party, predecessor of Pheu Thai Party, the party said that the two edicts were issued in contexts.
In the case of the Thaksin government, the opposition party explained that the administration was bound by several conditions imposed on Thailand by the International Monetary Fund, after the country accepted help from the IMF following the so called “Tom Yum Kung” financial crisis.
The current edict has, however, been issued by the government to address economic problems caused by the failures of the government itself, according to the statement.
Under the edict, foreigners who want to buy and own 0.16 hectares of land in Thailand must invest at least 40 million baht for three years in securities, real estate, infrastructure funds or trusts.
The Pheu Thai Party said that such investments will not help to create more jobs or generate more income for the Thai people, but will benefit the capital markets in the short term because, after three years, they will withdraw their investments.
Foreigners who will be able to buy the 0.16 hectares include wealthy global citizens, wealthy pensioners, highly skilled professionals and those who want to work from Thailand.
“Every Thai has the duty to protect the land for their children in the future, but this government has done the opposite,” said the party in its statement.
Other more nationalistic critics accuse the government of selling off the country.
In the USA, UK and the EU, among other places, there is no citizenship requirement for the purchase of land.