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Expats hail ownership plan Print E-mail
Friday, 27 February 2009 18:47

Expatriates living in Jakarta and surrounding areas said they welcomed the government's plan to allow foreigners to own property in Indonesia for 90 years.

Currently, the National Land Agency, Home Ministry and Public Housing Ministry are revising a 1996 law on foreign ownership of property. The revision will extend foreigners' utility rights of houses, apartments and condominiums in Indonesia from 25 to 90 years.

On Thursday, German national Dieter Speers said he welcomed the plan. Having lived in Indonesia for almost 20 years, he said owning land in the country would definitely bridge the gap between foreigners and locals.

"I buy a property to live in. I obey the culture and adjust to the neighborhood," he said.

"I'm more likely to be part of the community by owning a house than just renting one apartment and moving the next year."

Speers purchased a house in 1999 under the 1996 rules.

Speers works in the bakery and cafe business, after serving as a professional chef in five-star hotels in Jakarta. He commutes from his house in Rancamaya, Bogor, to his workshop in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

He said the choice to live and have a business in Indonesia was his own.

"I'm not married at all. I'm living on my own. I'm very free to move anytime, but I chose to continue to stay here," he said.

"Indonesia is so promising, in terms of entrepreneurship and the hospitality of friends is second to none."

Another expatriate, Karen Merrick, said that if the plan passed, it would help sustain the economy.

"I think the plan would widen the popularity of Indonesia from other countries," she said.

Malaysia and Singapore allow expatriates to own property. In Singapore, an apartment would cost Rp 170 million per square meter while, in Indonesia the price is still around Rp 10 to 25 million per square meter.

Last week, the chairman of the Indonesian Real Estate Association (REI), Teguh Satria, urged the government to revise the regulation to allow foreigners to acquire 70-year home ownership rights in order to help the economy.

Property analysts said that because of the global economy crisis, within two years the property business here would be sluggish.

The draft revision reportedly allows ownership rights up to 90 years straight, longer than what the REI demanded.

CEO of property giant Agung Podomoro Group, Handaka Santosa, said the government was taking too long to deliberate the regulation.

The ministry has been working with the National Land Agency to draft the regulation with input from the Indonesian Real Estate Developers Association since last year. It was scheduled to go into effect by the end of 2008, or early 2009 at the latest.

"They should hurry up and not take too much time to pass the law," he said.

"The government should be smart in looking for a breakthrough to help the economy," he said.

Handaka said opening up the real estate market to foreigners was a good way to attract investment.

"Compared to the stock market, real estate is safer, because even though they leave the country, the property is still here," he said.

Calls to open up the real estate market to foreigners have been sounded since 2006. That year, REI estimated that the country could reap at least $10 billion in foreign investment in five years should it decide to open the sector.

 

Source: The Jakarta Post



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