PETALING JAYA: Business owners and operators in the service sector are in the dark over the extension levy fee just over a month after its official implementation in March.
Coffeeshop and eatery operator groups are puzzled that they still have to fork out the initial RM10,000 for the extension levy fee instead of RM6,000 as announced by the Finance Ministry in February.
Abdul Mukthahir Ibrahim, the manager of Salam Sentosa restaurant chain in Rawang, said he went to submit an application to extend the services of his cooks at his restaurant chain, who had worked for some years in the country.
“All my applications for my five cooks were approved but I was told to come back in two weeks’ time as the Immigration Department told me that I have to pay RM10,000.
“When I came back to the Immigration Department, the officers said that there were no instructions to change the extension levy fee and I needed to pay the old rate,” he said.
The government had announced that it will lower the extension levy fees for foreign workers who have worked in the country for more than 10 years starting in March.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Cabinet made the decision during a meeting on Feb 20 to reduce the burden of employers.
This follows an outcry from employers and industry players who said both employers and workers could not afford to pay even 80% of the fee.
In September last year, Lim said employers would have to pay the entire RM10,000 levy instead of having the skilled workers pay the bulk of it as originally planned.
Abdul Mukthahir said that the issue of foreign worker levy is causing problems to his daily operations as he needs foreign workers to cope with customer demand.
“I am facing a shortage of workers and I hope the authorities can look into the matter,” he said.
Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association vice-president C. Krishnan said he received similar complaints from his members regarding the implementation of the e-levy fees for foreign workers.
“We are confused as to why the Finance Ministry announced the lowering of fees but it is not implemented by the Immigration Department.
“All of them went through the regular process but when they go to the Immigration Department, it is still the same.
“We want the issue to be further clarified,” he said.
Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association president Datuk Ho Su Mong said if the levy issue is not settled, eatery operators will be further troubled with shortage of foreign workers.
“We are already facing shortage of workers and in view of that, we hope they can lower the fees.
“Our industry depends on minimum profit margin and without enough workers we will face increases in cost,” he said.
He noted that lowering of the levy should include all foreigners and not merely those who have worked in Malaysia for 10 years or more.
“We are not sure why there are problems with the implementation. The Finance Ministry announced a different thing while the Immigration Department is doing another.
“It seems there is no consistency on the matter and there are differing implementations from the announcement,” he said.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said any changes in levy rates is under the purview of the Finance Ministry and the ministry had decided on the rates for foreign workers with more than 10 years of service in the country.
“The Immigration Department is the collection agency for the levy and they cannot decide on the rates.
“They should impose the newly reduced rates as decided by the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub questioned the confusion over the levy.
“We want a proper implementation on the government’s announcement and why it is taking so long when the government had already announced the lower rate,” he said.