Govt is working on Forest City project ownership guide – Nation

SEMENYIH: Malaysia will have clearer guidelines on foreign ownership in the multibillion-ringgit Forest City project, says Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.

She said that her ministry would have a meeting tomorrow with the developer of Forest City, the state government, the regional development authority of Iskandar and the local authorities tomorrow to understand more about the project.

"The ministry will later submit a report to the government, in which case only the government will investigate external property issues relating to the project.

"The developer will inform us of what happened before our time, and we can then follow a clear direction regarding foreign ownership with regard to the project.

"Investors will then have better guidelines so that they do not make risky decisions," Zuraida told reporters after a visit to the Eco Majestic project here.

The Forest City project hit the headlines after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said last Monday that Malaysia would not allow foreigners to buy housing units in the Forest City project.

He said: "One thing is certain: the city that is going to be built can not be sold to foreigners, we are not going to give visas for people to live here."

The next day, the Prime Minister's cabinet stated in a statement that the purchase of real estate did not guarantee an automatic residence permit in Malaysia.

It said that Malaysia imposed certain "conditions and information" on foreigners who bought property, regardless of their nationality.

Reportedly, two-thirds of home buyers in Forest City are from China.

Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd, the developer of Forest City, said it had complied with all laws and regulations and with the necessary approvals to sell to foreign property buyers.

The company reported last Monday that Section 433B of the National Land Code has outlined that a foreign citizen or foreign company can acquire land in Malaysia, provided the state authority has given permission.

In a separate case, Zuraida said that the ministry would announce a new housing policy by the end of September.

"We are now in the final phase of reviewing the housing policy," she said.

"There are three categories under the affordable housing segment."

Regarding the sales and service tax that replaced goods and services tax, Zuraida said construction costs could be reduced by almost 10% with lower raw material prices.

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