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PM pushes for property law to boost foreign investment

PM pushes for property law to boost foreign investment

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090622_16.jpg

Hun Sen says that draft legislation allowing foreigners to own apartments will – once completed – give momentum to other sectors of the economy

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the Ministry of Land Management to speed up drafting of property legislation.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Friday urged the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to expedite the drafting of new rules that would permit foreign ownership of property in Cambodia.

In a press release issued by the Council of Ministers, Hun Sen said implementation of the rules would lead to an influx of foreign capital investment in the real estate and other sectors.

"The law will make foreigners feel confident in investing in other sectors in Cambodia," he said.

In an interview Sunday, Sung Bonna, CEO of Bonna Realty Group and president of the National Valuers Association of Cambodia, said he welcomed the premier's comments, calling them "a highly valued answer to help the real estate industry survive".

He added, "Samdech [Hun Sen] made a good decision with this law. This law is a positive law that will benefit the country's economy."

The NVA is to meet today with a working group of government officials and private sector representatives to give input on the new rules.

The law will make foreigners feel confident in investing in other

sectors in Cambodia.

Existing rules prohibit foreigners from owning property, which supporters say prevents speculation and price volatility. The proposed changes would allow for foreign ownership of houses, apartments and condominiums above the ground floor. Foreigners would also be able to inherit property.

Sung Bonna said all 15 members of the NVA fully supported the changes, though he said they would put forth two recommendations during the meeting today.

First, he said foreigners should only be able to buy property that costs $50,000 or more so that cheaper apartments would be available to Cambodians.

Second, there should be some limit as to how much property any one foreigner can purchase.

Senior Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap also called for some limits to the law, noting in particular the government's view that foreigners should not be able to buy land located near the border so as to prevent foreign ownership of property in disputed areas.

Cheap Yeap said he did not know when the draft would be completed or when it would be sent to the National Assembly.

Im Chamrong, director general of the construction department at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said the rules were still being drafted and would be the subject of debate at an inter-ministerial meeting to be held "soon". He said it was not sure when the draft would be sent to the Council of Ministers.

Sung Bonna dismissed concerns that foreign ownership would lead to undue increases in property prices, saying it would instead provide a much-needed jolt to a sector that has been battered by the economic crisis.

He said he believed the rules would prompt foreigners to consider purchasing second homes in the Kingdom.

"Our country is the best place for second homes where foreigners can relax and stay when they retire," he said. "Our country is a destination with intact natural resources and good weather, and this is the right time to absorb capital flow into Cambodia."

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