National Assembly (NA) deputies remained divided over Viet Kieu housing rights during debate on the draft Housing Law at the NA session last week.
Home to stay: Some deputies fear a flood of Viet Kieu house purchases will hit Vietnam hard
One of the most controversial issues is the provision allowing Viet Kieu who remain in Vietnam for three consecutive months to purchase a home. Some have called for the abolition of this article, while others agreed to its provisions but asked for stricter regulations.
Viet Kieu housing rights are detailed in chapter six of the housing bill, which also covers house ownership for foreigners in Vietnam.
Vinh Long province’s representative Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai asked law-makers to treat the provision carefully as “it can be abused, leading to housing difficulties for Vietnamese, particularly low-income earners”.
“I think overseas Vietnamese who come back for long-term investment, or are eligible to live in Vietnam, should be allowed to own houses. However, overseas Vietnamese who only regularly visit Vietnam for three months or more should just be allowed to lease houses,” said Mai.
She called for the removal from the housing bill of the provision permitting Viet Kieu who stay for more than three months to purchase houses in Vietnam.
Hanoi representative Nguyen Ngoc Dao requested clearer provisions in article 116 of the draft Housing Law that governs Viet Kieu housing rights.
The article stipulates that overseas Vietnamese who return for long-term investment and contribute to the country, and others such as scientists and cultural researchers who visit the country regularly, are eligible to purchase houses in Vietnam.
However, Dao asked for the law to define clearly what ‘long-term’, ‘regular’ and ‘contribution’ mean, otherwise loopholes in the article may be abused.
He cited an example where 10 members of a family return to Vietnam and if each is allowed to buy a house or an apartment, the family could purchase a total of 10 properties. After three months, nine family members could go abroad and leave inheritance rights to the remaining member, meaning this person could own 10 houses.
Hau Giang province’s representative Tran Hong Viet said there should be no discrimination in housing rights between Viet Kieu and Vietnamese.
Viet said housing and land prices in Vietnam are similar to those in developed countries, therefore he questioned how many houses Viet Kieu could afford to purchase.
“We should not be afraid that they [Viet Kieu] would buy all land and houses at current market values,” said Viet. “For low-income people, we should have a separate policy to create a transparent market.”