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Ministers OK foreign property purchases

The Council of Ministers approved a long-awaited draft law Friday allowing foreign ownership of units in co-owned buildings to boost economic growth, council spokesman Phay Siphan said.

The draft law, approved in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen, was aimed at “attracting investors, facilitating the growth of real estate market, and pushing development”, according to a statement from the Council of Ministers on Friday.

Phay Siphan said the law would let foreigners buy units in buildings from the first floor up, but would not apply within 30 kilometres of international borders because of national security concerns.

Phay Siphan said a controversial clause limiting the percentage of any building that could be owned by foreigners had been dropped. Instead, the government would manage ownership by foreigners through sub-decrees, which could be issued on a case-by-case basis, he said.

The draft law is expected to be approved by Cambodia’s parliament and senate, and then will be promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Phay Siphan said he expected the law, which consists of 8 chapters and 24 articles, to be sent to the National Assembly for consideration within the week.

The move comes after the private sector in recent years urged the government to allow foreign ownership of properties such as apartments and factories, saying a liberalised real estate market would spur the economy. Under current rules, foreign property investments can be made only through the name of a Cambodian national.

National Valuers Association of Cambodia President Sung Bonna said the law would boost sales but was unlikely to increase prices of apartments, as there is still limited demand in the country.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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