Foreign labour policy a form of subsidy, says Nur Jazlan

March 7, 201611:30 am355 views
Foreign labour policy a form of subsidy, says Nur Jazlan
Employers are supposed to pay RM2,500 per foreign worker in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors but the move has been met with howls of protest. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, March 7, 2016. - See more at:

Putrajaya’s policy of allowing foreign workers is a form of subsidy for employers who will otherwise have to pay double or more to hire locals to do the same job, says Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

Despite this, employers were complaining about paying a levy for foreign labour and preferred to operate under a “regime” using undocumented migrants by not coming forward to register illegal workers under the ongoing rehiring programme for iIllegal foreign workers, he added.

“For example, let’s say for the same sector and same job, an employer would have to pay RM3,000 a month to a local, but only RM1,500 to a foreign worker.

“The difference here, multiplied by 12 months, works out to RM18,000, and yet the highest levy the government imposes is RM2,500 per year.

“Which means they get a subsidy of RM16,000 by employing foreign workers,” he told The Malaysian Insider, adding that the government was “fed up” of taking the blame for the large numbers of foreign workers in the country when it was the employers who wanted cheap labour.

Under a revised levy structure, employers are to pay RM2,500 per foreign worker in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors, and RM1,500 per worker in the plantation and agriculture sectors.

Putrajaya’s move to increase the levy last month was met with protests by business and employer groups.

Nur Jazlan (pic), however, said the economic and social cost to the government in allowing employers to continue depending on foreign labour was escalating and becoming burdensome.

The ongoing rehiring programme, which began on February 15, was one step to move away from reliance on foreign workers, he said.

“In terms of financial costs when they use our public health services for instance, and the social cost, when they marry locals and so on, is already a burden too big to bear.

“So we want to reduce the intake of foreign workers from now on,” he said, reiterating that there would be no punishment for employers who registered illegal workers they had been hiring.

“Employers need to do the right thing and register their foreign workers.

“We know some are trying to avoid that, simply to avoid paying the levy and other costs involved in the welfare of their workers. As such, the prefer to hire illegal foreign workers.

“But they must comply because we are stepping up on our enforcement.”

Nur Jazlan also said he was aware of Malaysians doing dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs in Singapore, saying that this was again because employers in Malaysia did not want to pay local workers the wages they wanted.

“I don’t think Malaysians want to go to Singapore to work, they have transportation issues, hardship, but because local employers don’t want to pay them enough, they have to go away.”

He said the government planned to develop a draft policy on the number of foreign workers needed by June.

“We will continue the rehiring programme until we are satisfied and then we will work out the numbers and see the number of foreign workers in the country and the demand for them.”

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