Vietnamese to own homes

June 18, 2009

, HANOI, Jun 18 – Overseas Vietnamese will have greater home ownership rights in Vietnam under amendments to laws passed Thursday by the National Assembly, state-linked media said.

More than 87 percent of deputies to the communist-dominated assembly approved the changes to the land and housing laws, VietnamNet news website reported.

The Vietnamese diaspora, known as Viet Kieu, numbers about three million people with many in the United States, Canada, France and Australia.

VietnamNet said the 70 percent of Viet Kieu who maintain Vietnamese citizenship would now be allowed to own an unlimited number of homes in the country, under the changes which take effect September 1.

Among those also able to benefit from the amendments are overseas Vietnamese investors, scientists, and others with special skills needed by the country, VietnamNet reported.

The moves aim to encourage their contributions to the homeland and "further tighten the relationship" between the expatriates and Vietnam, Construction Minister Nguyen Hong Quan said earlier during the National Assembly session, according to the state Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

The amendments also halve the residency requirement for Viet Kieu property purchasers to three months from six, and grant other land rights including allowing them to rent out houses they purchase, VNA said.

Many Viet Kieu fled during and after the Vietnam War that ended in 1975, often surviving harrowing journeys as boat people.

For many, the memories are still too bitter to consider a return visit but a growing number have come back, often mixing family visits with business deals.

Deputy Construction Minister Nguyen Tran Nam has said that only a small number of the overseas Vietnamese can afford houses in their homeland, VNA reported, adding that a relatively small number of Viet Kieu, more than 140, have been granted house ownership certificates over the past two years.

The assembly\’s month-long session ends on Saturday.

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