Wednesday 17 Apr 2024
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PUTRAJAYA (March 1): The Home Ministry has decided to free up the quota for hiring of foreign workers, which was frozen since March last year, by cancelling allocations given that were not used starting from June this year, according to its minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

This means that the government will no longer allow the entry of foreign workers into the formal sector with active quotas, effective June 1.

At a media briefing, Saifuddin said the active quota for hiring foreign workers, for which levies have been paid but visas with reference (VDR) have not been issued by the end of March, will be nullified. 

However, it is unclear at this juncture if the freed-up quota will be immediately available for application.

Meanwhile, employers will get their levy refunded from their cancelled quota, said Saifuddin. So, the deadline for entry of new formal sector foreign workers with VDR is May 31. 

“I urge all relevant employers to expedite the entry of foreign workers while ensuring compliance with the terms and labour laws set by the government,” he said.

The move came after Saifuddin announced in end-January that the Cabinet had decided to keep its freeze on the application and approval for foreign workers quota, as it felt the quota that allows the hiring of foreign workers was already sufficient to meet the country's workforce needs.

This was despite urgings from the private sector to lift the ban, citing major losses due to labour shortage.

Just two days ago, Plantations and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani cited the ban on foreign workers quota as he lamented in Parliament that the palm oil industry lost up to RM7.9 billion in exports value last year due to a shortage of 40,000 workers.

Saifuddin, meanwhile, said the government is making significant improvements to the levy repatriation policy and process.

He also noted that the duration for processing levy refunds at the immigration director general's approval stage has been cut by 47%, and takes only 28 days now compared to 53 previously.

Simultaneously, the processing time at the Home Ministry secretary general approval stage has halved to 38 days instead of 77 days.

“Employers will also be allowed to claim a refund of foreign worker levy payments after a period of six months from the effective date of the conditional approval letter, with the entire balance of the foreign worker quota returned to the government,” Saifuddin added.

Edited ByS Kanagaraju & Tan Choe Choe
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