Thailand withdrew a proposal allowing foreigners to buy up to one rai – the Thai equivalent of 0.4 acres – of ground in Thailand, a government official said on Tuesday, despite the plan’s previous approval by the cabinet.
Thailand’s Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda says the proposal has been removed from the cabinet’s agenda as it is a ‘sensitive’ issue that requires further consideration, Bangkok Post reported.
“We have to take the case back for review because it is sensitive. It needs to be reviewed to assess the positive and negative effects on the economy and society,” Anupong told reporters.
The draft bill, previously approved in principle by the cabinet on October 26, would allow foreigners to buy land in Thailand if they invest 40 million baht ($1.1 million) in securities or bonds over three years.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the Interior Ministry withdrew the proposed bill to solicit public opinion and decide whether to resubmit it to the cabinet within the next 15 days.
The draft settlement was aimed at wealthy expats, retirees and digital nomads who wish to reside in Thailand, as well as highly skilled professionals.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must make investments in Thailand in the form of bonds issued by the Thai government, real estate or infrastructure funds, real estate investment trusts, legal entities or companies promoted by the Board of Investment.
The program is expected to boost the Thai economy by 1 trillion baht ($26.5 billion) and investments by 800 billion baht ($21.2 billion), with an estimated income of 270 billion baht (7, $2 billion), according to local reports.
However, residents fear that this could trigger a spike in land prices and make it difficult for locals to buy land.
Tanit Sorat, vice-president of the Employers’ Confederation of Thai Commerce and Industry, welcomed the ministry’s decision to withdraw the proposal and said the amount of investment required was too low for wealthy foreigners.
Tanit said locals are also concerned that the scheme will incentivize Chinese investors to acquire more land in Thailand.
“They are also concerned about future land speculation and its potential to open doors for foreigners – especially Chinese businessmen who run ‘grey’ businesses in Thailand such as bars, massage parlors and gambling dens. – to buy large land,” Tanit said. Bangkok Post.