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#Latest* Kedah state mulls changes to land swapping policy

PETALING JAYA: A month after the Kedah state government’s suspension of the land swapping policy, it is now looking at making some major changes to it.

“We are considering several options regarding the land swapping policy but we have yet to come to a decision. The matter is still under discussion and we will have to consult other parties such as the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) before making the final decision,” State Housing and Local Government, Rural Development and Hardcore Poor Eradication, Works, Water Supply and Resources, and Energy Committee chairman Datuk Phahrolrazi Mohd Nawawi told theedgeproperty.com.

Developers in Kedah are allowed to develop Malay reserve land and sell 70% of the units to non-bumiputras. In return, under the current suspended policy, developers are required to acquire a larger tract of non-Malay reserve land (5% more than the Malay reserve land to be developed), in any part of the state. The acquired land will then be classified as Malay reserve land.

Phahrolrazi said the state is considering new guidelines to require Malay Reserve land to be swapped only with non-Malay Reserve Land of an equivalent value anywhere in the state. It is also considering approving land-swapping on a case-by-case basis

Phahrolrazi stressed that the issue needs to be handled delicately to avoid any misunderstanding. He declined to give a timeframe for a decision to be reached.

Phahrolrazi said the state will continue with the land swapping policy but needs to fine--tune it. “We need to allow land swapping, but with certain considerations. We have to consider the land value. Right now, most of the land swapping is for land in Alor Star which is swapped with land in the rural areas. But land values in the rural areas are so much lower than the value of land in the city. So that kind of swapping is not exactly fair,” he said.

Another option under consideration is to limit land swapping within a similar land “zone”, which means a piece of land in an urban area can only be swapped with land in a another urban area, added Phahrolrazi.

A housing industry source however lamented that such changes to the land swapping policy guidelines will be detrimental to Kedah’s housing industry. “In the case of swapping land of an equivalent value, it would be very difficult to find a piece of land of the same value outside of Alor Star,” laments the source.

The state REHDA has declined to comment on the issue but will be setting a meeting with the state government to discuss the suspension of the land swapping policy soon.

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