Legal loophole allows foreigners to run business

Foreign spouses are allowed to work or conduct business during the validity of their social visit passes, says Mohd Jafni. — Filepic

JOHOR is looking to prevent immigrants from exploiting legal loopholes which allow them to operate businesses in the state.

State housing and local government committee chairman Datuk Mohd Jafni Md Shukor said they intended to address the issue.

“The local government division secretary is currently in the process of preparing a draft that will control businesses conducted by immigrants,” said Mohd Jafni.

He said the state government, through its 16 local councils, had improved the business licence application process involving non-risky licence categories.

These include static hawker licences for traders at night markets, morning markets, centralised markets, farmers’ markets, private stalls and those for temporary hawkers.

“The other category is mobile hawker licences involving operators of food trucks, car boot sales and hawkers who sell products from vans or lorries.

“Effective from Jan 1, 2023, the approval of this risk-free licence only requires one working day,” said Mohd Jafni.

“For such hawker licences, in principle, all 16 local councils will not issue or approve licences to non-citizens and foreigners,” he said during the Johor state assembly meeting held at Bangunan Sultan Ismail in Kota Iskandar.

He said this in reply to Baharudin Mohamed Taib (BN-Permas) who asked whether foreigners married to locals were allowed to register a business using their spouses’ names.

Mohd Jafni said that in such a situation, it was permissible for the Malaysian spouse to obtain a business licence or a hawker’s licence to conduct business within the administrative area of a local council.

He also said that most of the businesses operated by foreigners were either inherited or family-owned.

“Local councils also have no authority or prohibition to block a licence application if the applicant supplies all the required documents.

“Under the trade, business and industrial licensing bylaws, there is no obstacle for any business to be managed or conducted by a foreign national as long as the name of the foreign national is in the registration information of the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM),” he said.

Mohd Jafni said that until now, there were no restrictions or obstacles from the SSM in allowing foreign nationals to register their businesses.

He said foreign spouses were allowed to work or conduct business during the validity period of their social visit passes, provided that the work or their business complied with the laws and regulations in force in Malaysia.

“I have instructed all 16 local councils through their respective enforcement units, to carry out an integrated enforcement operation to check the status of foreign traders.

“A total of 577 enforcement actions have been taken so far, with Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) recording the most number at with 315 operations and 270 enforcement actions.

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