Sri Lanka prohibits sale of land to foreigners

Feb 21, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has decided to prohibit the sale by state and private land outright to foreigners, information minister Keheliya Rambukwelle said. Notaries will be prohibiting from preparing documents to transfer land on a freehold basis to non-citizens.

But lands would be allowed to be leased on a long term basis to projects involving foreign investors.

The regulations which have been approved by the cabinet will be brought to parliament.

Minister Rambukwelle said the rules also indicated land already held by foreigners will also not be allowed to be sold to foreigners.

But existing land will be allowed to be held, he said. It is not clear what will happen to inheritances.

The law will not apply to foreign missions.

Under current rules foreigners could buy land paying a 100 percent tax. Rambukwelle said he was not sure whether there was a tax involved in lease contracts.

Economic analysts say the prohibition of land ownership by foreigners gained popularity mainly in Eastern Europe and forms a part of a subset of the nationalist agenda, known as rural nationalism.

Property rights and freehold land (aliena