Sri Lanka to relax some land ownership laws for foreign investors: Finance Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Foreign investors in large projects will be able to buy land with less restrictions reverting equal to a situation that prevailed ‘pre-2012’ Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.

Sri Lanka’s ousted nationalist Rajapaksa administration brought additional taxes on land leases and also stopped the drawing up of freehold land deeds on behalf of foreign investors. Before that firm could buy freehold land after paying an extra transfer tax.

"You have it in two ways. One is the leasing area which is a negative which will be certainly corrected," Karunanayake told members of the Sri Lanka and Malaysia Business Forum.

He said changes can be expected for land purchase for investments but for pure speculative purchases it may not be allowed.

"Let that be for Sri Lankans," Minister Karunanayake said. "But if you have foreigners coming in for investments above a certain limit that is specified, we will be happy to give the benefits that you have been enjoying up to 2012."

Analysts have said that when the coercive power of the state is used to stop citizens from selling land to anyone they wanted to satisfy the vicarious desires of nationalists, free hold, and liberties of the people, would be undermined.

The most oppressed would be owners of small plots of land, who will be forced sell at a lower than market price by reducing competition.

Restricting freehold land ownership by ‘foreigners’ was a part of European ‘rural nationalism’ that spread to Asia, but now prevails in a few countries like Hungary, making it difficult for that nation to fully integrate with Western Europe.

Hungary was a hotbed where nationalist hate originally emerged in the mid 19th century and culminated in National Socialism in Germany and other forms of fascism in countries including Italy.

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