SEMENYIH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - 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 her ministry would be holding a meeting with the Forest City developer, the state government, Iskandar Regional Development Authority and local authorities tomorrow to understand more about the project.
"The ministry will submit a report to the Cabinet later. Then only the government will look into foreign ownership matters related to the project.
"The developer will brief us on what transpired before our time. We can then have a clear direction on foreign ownership related to the project.
The Forest City project made the headlines after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said last Monday that Malaysia would not allow foreigners to buy residential units in the Forest City project.
He was quoted as saying: "One thing is certain, that city that is going to be built cannot be sold to foreigners. We are not going to give visas for people to come and live here."
The following day, the Prime Minister's Office in a statement said the purchase of properties did not guarantee automatic residency in Malaysia.
It said Malaysia imposed certain "conditions and information" for foreigners purchasing properties, irrespective of nationality.
It was reported that two-thirds of the homebuyers 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 in a statement last Monday noted that Section 433B of the National Land Code outlined that a foreign citizen or a foreign company may acquire land in Malaysia subject to the prior approval of the state authority.
On a separate matter, Zuraida said the ministry would announce a new housing policy by the end of September.
"We are now at the last stage of reviewing the housing policy," she said.
"There will be three categories under the affordable housing segment."
As for the Sales and Service Tax which replaced the Goods and Services Tax, Zuraida said building costs could be reduced by nearly 10 per cent with lower raw material prices.