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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

UEM Land: Ease curbs on foreign buyers

UEM Land Sdn Bhd, overseeing Malaysia's biggest property project, wants the government to ease limits on foreign purchases to aid its plans to attract Singaporeans seeking cheaper homes outside the city-state.

Currently, foreigners can only own half of the properties in any Johor resort development and the limit is 20 per cent for other residential projects, UEM managing director Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said yesterday in an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

"We've got a backlog of foreign buyers who want to buy, but we cannot sell" to them, Wan Abdullah said.

"The Prime Minister wants the region to be investor-friendly and international in content, so how are you going to attract international investors if you have quotas?"

UEM is the biggest developer of the 9,720ha Nusajaya city project in Johor, which the government is redeveloping to boost economic growth and woo RM382 billion of investments to the region in two decades.

Private home prices in Singapore soared 31 per cent last year to the highest in 11 years, the city-state's Urban Redevelopment Authority said early this month.

The government last year sought to bolster the Johor projects by relaxing investment rules, accelerating approvals and making it easier for foreigners to buy properties in the country.

The quotas, however, are still a drag on Johor, Wan Abdullah said.

About 60 per cent of UEM's foreign buyers are Singaporeans and most of the rest are expatriates who work and live in Singapore, he said.

"Because of spiralling prices in Singapore, they start to look somewhere else near," Wan Abdullah said.

By Bloomberg

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