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Critical to develop foreign worker recruitment policy and system — FMM

FMM In The News: THE EDGE MARKETS, KUALA LUMPUR, Tuesday, January 25, 2022 -  The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) opined that it is critical and expeditious for Malaysia to have a foreign worker recruitment policy based on a system that supports sector- and company-demand-based requirements in order to accelerate business and economic recovery.

The policy must be supported by "a credible, consistent, and transparent system", FMM said in a statement on Tuesday.

While FMM is supportive of the removal of the special quota for foreign workers to certain parties, which could be open to "possible misuse and abuse" resulting in excessive entry and the possibility of foreign worker human trafficking issues, business operations have been hampered by acute manpower challenges in the unskilled manpower positions.

The statement, signed off by president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai, said FMM had previously indicated that in order for industries — especially export-based companies — to return to pre-pandemic level, the general skill labour conditions this year must have more than a 600,000-strong foreign labour workforce.

This is to fill the gaps that arose as a result of the sharp drop in foreign workers in the manufacturing sector in 2021 compared with pre-Covid-19 in 2019. This came about because employers were unable to get replacements for their foreign workers who had returned to their respective countries.

FMM said the situation must be addressed in order to aid business revival, otherwise the recovery could be derailed.

We urge the concerned authorities to put their act together to resolve, facilitate, and approve the importation of foreign workers urgently, Soh said.

"The post-pandemic business landscape is very competitive," he said, adding that companies may lose customers. They also risk possible relocation of manufacturing base by the principal companies.

FMM is also seeking more clarity on the foreign worker recruitment process including the changes that have been introduced. These include the standard operating procedures on foreign workers' entry and the new terms agreed upon in the memorandum of understanding with the source countries.

It is also requesting the details be released early including having engagements with stakeholders to ensure that the procedures are workable and result in a win-win outcome for all.

Soh said "any changes should be progressive and enhance efficiency of the system" including moving the entire process online, preferably involving only one ministry/agency for approval.

Soh also thanked the government for deferring the implementation of the multi-tier levy mechanism to July 1 this year. He is also seeking details of the multi-tier levy to give industries the time to plan and adjust to the new system and to factor in any rise in cost.


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