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Thailand keeps its eye on ownership on Phuket and holiday hotspots

Researcher Pursues '100pc Truth' on Ownership

Monday, August 31, 2009
THE ACADEMIC who sparked the controversy about foreign ownership of Phuket is just as interested in the environment and tourism as she is in real estate.

''I am researching the effects of tourism on Thailand's travel hotspots,'' said Professor Siriporn Sajjanont, of the economics faculty at Sukothai Thammathirat Open University.

She and her team have been studying the topic for more than two years. And she rejects outright the Bangkok Post lead article a week ago that said baldly: ''Foreigners 'own 90pc of Phuket beach land.'''

''That was plainly wrong,'' Ajarn Siriporn said. ''What we are talking about is control, which can come in many ways and many forms. Ownership of land is quite clear-cut.''

The heading writer at the Bangkok Post generated huge interest in Ajarn Siriporn's lengthy research document, entitled ''Summary Report: Real Estate Holdings of Aliens,'' for all the wrong reasons.

Coincidentally, the moves by Governor Wichai Praisa-nob to tighten controls on the environmental aspects of future projects has heightened concerns among potential investors.

Ajarn Siriporn says there was no intention of being ''anti-farang'' or xenophobic in conducting her research.

''Quite the opposite, really,'' she told Phuketwan. ''Thailand needs investment but it needs to happen under proper, enforceable laws.

''Time share, for example, is one of the difficult areas because it raises questions about who pays for the disposal of garbage and the infrastructure, as well as effects on the environment.''

She says the basic law that limits foreign ownership to 49 percent is circumvented in a variety of ways so that foreigners have much greater control of large tracts of land on Phuket than the lawmakers intended.

''Levels of foreign control are very substantial,'' she said. ''Whether this is good for Thailand is the point.''

Phuket, she said, had grown too fast and the speed of development raised new issues and concerns.

She is 55 and has been an academic for 17 years. Sponsorship of the research came from the Thai Research Fund after she made a presentation about her proposal.

''Thai people do not have a lot of money for investment,'' she said.

''Many foreign marriages produce land purchases where the Thai wife has clearly never been in possession of that kind of wealth.''

The tax levels are one of her prime concerns because infrastructure and future growth all come at a high price. She believes it should always be the case that foreigners pay more.

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Comments

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The best loophole in the Thai law is widely used by accounting and lawyer offices to fill up the 51% Thai shareholder quota to set up limited company and limited partnership company with the registration of penniless proxy Thai nominees which is illegal but no one care about as civil servants get bribes to close the eyes.
The day the Thai Administration will crack down those rogue practices either from entrepreneurs and civil servants, businesses in Thailand will be cleaner and more profitable for the silent majority who are following the Thai law as much they can.
These is one reason most of Thais do not like to pay taxes in Thailand as a large percent of those taxes are diverted to greedy politicians and local businessmen through corruption at all levels.
It took 30 years in Singapore to change that bad use with drastic measures and Thais are not ready for it.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 31, 2009 20:15

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All those thousands of foreigners (%99 men )who bought land under spousal names will now be punished?
"GOTCHA!" says Thailand ! Lax and arbitrary enforcement of laws for the past decade nets another passle of suckers, time to suddenly apply the law, and "Reel 'em in!"

Editor: I don't think anyone is suggesting that.

Posted by Ex- Pat Caveat on September 1, 2009 09:19

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To complete what I said previously it is important to know that all fuss about land and business ownerships is Thailand from prominent academics and politicians at many seminars around the country is that they are scare than they may lost control of many lands and businesses in coming years as ASEAN countries is aiming to become a single market by 2015.
Under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) plan, Thailand is set to raise its 49% ceiling on foreign ownership of logistics service operators to 51% in 2011 then to 70% in 2013.
Logistics is among 12 priority areas for Asean integration, along with sectors such as automobiles, electronics, agro-based products, fisheries, air travel, tourism, textiles and clothing, and health care.
Asean aims to strengthen economic integration through liberalization and facilitation measures in logistics services by 2020. Singapore, Laos and Cambodia already allow 100% foreign ownership of logistics-related business.
Thailand allows foreigners to hold 100% only of freight service providers.
The Thai political turmoil since 2 years and no end in view make the 2011 deadline in too short notice for the government to better regulate land and business ownerships to protect Thai interests.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 1, 2009 10:08


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