6 June 2024

Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow defended the government’s plan to allow land-ownership in Thailand for residential purpose by four groups of foreigners, in his response to criticism of the plan by Move Forward Party Leader Pita Limjaroenrat in the House of Representatives.

During the debate, Pita said he would like to know the government’s real motive behind the foreign land ownership plan which, he pointed out, is not new, but was introduced in2003, during the then government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

He said that to date only eight foreigners had bought land for residential purposes and he could not figure out how the government would be able to achieve its target of attracting one million foreigners to do likewise, which would mean 40 trillion baht being invested in Thailand if the target is reached.

He pointed out that there is a big gap in landownership in Thailand, with 75% of the Thai population not owning land by their own, while 25% own land and 80% of the land isowned by just 5% of the population.

In response to Pita’s criticism, Supattanapong said that the government’s objective is to attract foreign investment and highly-skilled foreigners to work in Thailand, to help in the development of the country’s economy and new industries.

He insisted that the regulations on foreign land-ownership in Thailand are more stringent than those in Britain, adding that the state still retains the right to revoke the landownership in case of any violations of regulations.

The deputy prime minister said he had a chance to meet with the governor of Seoul, South Korea, and asked why skilled foreign professionals, such as famous designers from Scandinavia and software experts, prefer to stay and work in Seoul. He was told by the Seoul governor that the trick is make Seoul a liveable city, without discrimination, for all nationalities, married couples in particular.

He said the government has set a target at one million long-term visa stayers over the course of several years, adding that the government does not expect all of them to buy land in the country.

“We must have faith in Thailand that we can attract foreign investment and foreigners. There are millions of people who view Thailand as liveable. Do not look at the country too negatively,” said Supattanapong.