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Govt yet to decide on proposal to let PM handle foreign workers' intake
Published on: Thursday, June 08, 2023
By: Malay Mail
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Govt yet to decide on proposal to let PM handle foreign workers' intake
Foreign workers are seen at working at a construction site in Kuala Lumpur January 13, 2023. (Malay Mail pic)
Kuala Lumpur: Putrajaya has yet to decide on calls to let the Prime Minister's Office or the prime minister take charge of the recruitment of foreign workers.

In a written parliamentary reply yesterday, the Human Resources Ministry said it was aware of proposals to remove foreign workers' intake management from its ministry and the Home Ministry.

“The government knows of proposals from several groups for the management of foreign workers intake to be placed under the Prime Minister's Department, not the Home Ministry or the Human Resources Ministry.

“This proposal also urges for the department which is managing this foreign workers' intake to be chaired by the prime minister and led by a former judge, chief executive officer or retired senior civil servant. However, there is no decision yet from the government regarding this proposal,” the ministry said.

The ministry was replying to Labis MP Pang Hok Liong, who had asked if the hiring of foreign workers would be handled by the Prime Minister's Department instead of the Home Ministry or Human Resources Ministry, to ensure that such intake would be more open and transparent at both the source country and Malaysia and not controlled by labour brokers or middlemen.

In the same reply, the Human Resources Ministry said the Cabinet had in December 2022 decided on its role and the Home Ministry's role in managing foreign workers' intake.

The Human Resources Ministry said the Cabinet had agreed to realign such management starting from January 15 this year.

It said the Home Ministry to be the main handler for the management of foreign workers, while the Human Resources Ministry's role would be in compliance to labour laws and policy, determining quota and finalising memorandum of understanding with the source countries.

The Human Resources Ministry also said such realignment is intended to balance between the need for economic development with national security and to make the process of intake of foreign workers more efficient, transparent and open.

In a separate parliamentary reply, the Human Resources Ministry yesterday said there are no plans to exempt employers from paying levies on foreign workers.

“Based on feedback received from the Home Ministry, the government at this time does not intend to give any levy exemptions to any sector employing foreign workers.

“This is because, the payment of levies is one of the mechanisms implemented by the government to reduce reliance on foreign manpower to ensure job opportunities for Malaysians are not affected," the ministry said to Pasir Puteh MP Datuk Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh. The Human Resources Ministry said the government is also currently drafting the best mechanism to implement a Multi-Tier Levy, where the levy rate imposed on employers will be based on the concept of "the more foreign workers hired, the higher the levy imposed”.

Nik Zawawi had asked why the government had not given an exemption on foreign workers' levy to the plantation sector when plantation operating costs had allegedly increased by 10 to 20 per cent after the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a separate written parliamentary reply to Batu Pahat MP Onn Abu Bakar, the Home Ministry yesterday said that there are currently 1,645,658 or 1.6 million foreign workers in Malaysia with active temporary work passes from the Immigration Department.

The Home Ministry said the Immigration Department requires all foreign workers in Malaysia to have a valid temporary employment pass (PLKS), and that they are allowed to work in the manufacturing, construction, plantation, services, agriculture, mining and quarrying sectors according to the approved quota.

“As of May 22, 2023, there is a total 1,645,685 PLKS that are still active based on the records of the Immigration Department of Malaysia,” it said yesterday.

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