Provide details on incentives announced under Budget 2021, urge businesses

BUSINESSES in Johor hope the Federal Government can provide details on the 20% incentive pledged in Budget 2021.

It was announced last year that they would enjoy the incentive when employing special needs workers as well as long-term unemployed and retrenched workers.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association (Perusim) secretary Hussein Ibrahim said they would be able to get a clearer picture if the details were provided.

“We are already in a new year and the details will allow us to plan ahead when hiring new workers, ’’ he said.

Hussein said association members had no problem hiring unemployed or retrenched Malaysians to work at Indian Muslim restaurants, but locals preferred to work in quick service restaurants, shopping centres or hypermarkets.

“We have no choice but to hire foreigners. South Indians are our choice as they speak Tamil, ’’ Hussein said when contacted.

He added that South Indian workers were the backbone of any Indian Muslim restaurant in the country and the eateries would not be able to operate without them.

Hussein also said that customers at Indian Muslim restaurants were not concerned whether the workers were locals or foreigners.

On average, a worker at an Indian Muslim restaurant earns RM1,500 basic salary, excluding overtime, and with accommodation and meals provided daily.

Hussein said although the money was considered good, especially for those with low academic qualifications or school dropouts, Malaysians were still not interested to work there.

Currently, Perusim has 288 members with the majority operating Indian Muslim restaurants, while others run sundry shops, trading companies and money changing businesses.

Johor Lorry Operators Associa-tion president Novan Hing said the 20% incentive was timely as the transportation sector was facing a shortage of lorry drivers.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order have caused a surge in demand for online shopping.

“This has resulted in online businesses engaging the services of courier companies to deliver goods to their customers, ’’ he said, adding that courier companies were forced to hire more drivers because of this.

Hing also said that the RM65bil development expenditure allocated under Budget 2021, the largest in history, would boost the construction sector as it would need more lorry drivers to transport construction and building materials.

“We hope there will be even distribution of the money to the states so that all can enjoy the economic spillover, ’’ he added.

VS Industry Bhd executive director Ng Yong Kang said there were many vacancies available for engineers in electronic and electrical (E&E) manufacturing companies in Johor.

The manufacturing sector, especially export-oriented, enjoyed good growth amid the Covid-19 pandemic and MCO, unlike the retail, hospitality and tourism-related sectors that were badly affected, he said.

“We need more mechanical, electronics and software engineers for our operations but we are having problems hiring them, ” Ng said, adding that response for engineering positions was not good.

Johor’s close proximity to Singapore and the latter’s strong currency is another reason why many locals prefer to work in the republic.

He said most Malaysians who planned to go to Singapore in the future normally worked for a couple of years in the E&E manufacturing sector in Johor.

“Experienced mechanical, electronics and software engineers and technicians are much sought after in Singapore, ’’ he added.

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