Extend deadline for recalibration plan, say business groups

PETALING JAYA: The Dec 31 deadline for employers to recalibrate their undocumented foreign workers should be extended, says the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM).

NCCIM president Datuk Low Kian Chuan said the extension is necessary due to the Covid-19 situation in the country.

“We propose that the recalibration programme be extended to a reasonable time frame until the pandemic condition subsides.

“Furthermore, we are approaching almost the end of the business year now and many businesses are just starting to reopen.

“A lot of time has been taken to handle the recalibration issue, so more time should be allowed,” he said when contacted yesterday.

More importantly, Low said the cost of legalising undocumented foreign workers should be reasonable, easy to apply and fast tracked for employers.

“The NCCIM will advise its members to comply with the SOP to ensure a safe working and healthy environment,” he said.

The apex trade organisation in Malaysia is a federation of five leading national trade organisations: the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (DPMM), Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (MAICCI), Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) and Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

Low noted that a recent survey by the NCCIM on 835 companies revealed a shortage of 77,721 workers in the manufacturing sector alone.

The survey also revealed that the plantation industry needs 70,000 foreign workers, rubber glove industry (25,000), furniture (30,000), construction (200,000), services (45,000) and plastics (6,293).

Under the Home Ministry’s Labour Recalibration Programme, the government announced yesterday that more sectors of employers are allowed to legalise undocumented foreign workers until Dec 31, namely restaurants, cargo, wholesale and retail, and cleaning services.

Federation of Johor Furniture Manufacturers and Traders Associations president Steve Ong Yeou Huan said allowing the recruitment of foreign manpower for the plantation sector is a good first step.

He hoped the government would eventually allow the furniture industry to bring in foreign workers.

“Forking out such costs is necessary for us to avoid incurring further losses such as cancellation of orders and penalties due to the delays in meeting the consignments,” he said, adding that the furniture manufacturing industry is in dire need of about 20,000 more foreign workers to meet the huge demand.

Johor MCA Youth chief Ling Tian Soon has called for the move to be made into a pilot project that can be expanded to other sectors.

“Apart from the plantation industry, farmers growing fruits and vegetables are also finding it difficult to harvest their crops due to the lack of manpower,” he said, adding that this would affect the economic recovery of the country.

The Sabah state government has been urged to follow the federal government’s decision to allow foreign workers into the country to make up for the lack of workers for various sectors, now reopened after over a year of ceased operations due to Covid-19.

East Malaysian Planters Association president Hanas Hakmad said that with the federal government allowing foreign workers to be brought in once again, Sabah will benefit greatly if it follows suit.

“This is one policy that will benefit our industries and the economy, so I hope the state government will also allow us to do the same here,” he said when contacted.

As for issues regarding foreign workers who overstayed and were not able to return to their countries due to the pandemic, he called on the authorities to help hold a legalisation programme for them.

“What about Sabah, any legalisation programme for our foreign workers here who have overstayed?” he asked.

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