New curbs on PR, foreigners buying land

Friday, March 9, 2012

PERMANENT residents and foreigners will no longer be able to purchase property or land through power of attorney (PA) or trust deeds, with the Minister of Development making it clear that land can only be owned by those eligible, namely Bruneian citizens.

During a meeting for the Eighth session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) yesterday, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman said effective immediately all property purchased through PA or trust deeds will be converted to temporary leases, although the length of the lease was not disclosed.

"PA and trust deeds have been used by many, especially parties not eligible to own land... So the purpose of terminating PA is to stop turning land over to people who are not eligible to own it," he said. Second Minister of Finance at the Prime Minister's office YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim added that the decision came into effect on October 1, 2011 and amendments to the Land Code are being drafted in order to enforce the policy. The decision will also affect land previously purchased through PA, meaning all property currently owned through PA or trust deeds will be converted into a lease. To date, 47,000 trust deeds or PAs have been issued.

PA is the primary method of property ownership for foreign investors and permanent residents, who can use PA a written authorisation for someone to act on an individual's behalf in private or business affairs to buy assets such as land or houses.

However, the Minister of Development added that there are two sections under PA which are being reviewed, as "we still need other parties" to develop land. He declined to discuss the issue further, stating the matter was "still under review".

The statements from both ministers were made in response to a question from LegCo member YB Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin, who asked if there was a way that land owned through PA could be registered under the Land Department, to stop people abusing PA to buy large swathes of land. The Brunei Times