Delay in foreign labour intake due to over-reliance on Indonesia, Bangladesh, says HR Minister

PETALING JAYA: Overdependence on a small number of source countries is the cause for delays in the entry of foreign labour into the country, says Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.

The Human Resources Minister said that Malaysian employers' overreliance on foreign labour from only a few source countries may not only lower the competitiveness of the labour market but also possibly cause shortages in labour supply in those few countries.

“The problem is that employers prefer to recruit only Indonesians and Bangladeshis because of issues of language, religion and so on.

“However, the recruitment of labour from within these two countries has started to dry up which will cause a labour shortage in those countries as demand exceeds supply.

“This will result in more conditions and demands to be imposed by source countries on the employers as we rely too much on one country alone.

“That's why we recommend employers to employ labour from other source countries as there are 13 approved source countries currently," he said at the Human Resources Ministry's Customer Meet Day press conference on Thursday (Sept 22).

Saravanan said that this issue would cause delays at the employer level due to the need to negotiate new agreements and the implementation of new changes to match the new requirements of the source countries.

“The delays now are usually disagreements and implementation setbacks at the employer level as they are the ones that manage the influx of labour from source countries.

“The ministry's only role is the giving of special approval for the recruitment of labour to source countries which we have already done,” he added.

The Human Resources Ministry had previously allowed the hiring of foreign workers for three industries - construction, manufacturing and service - from all 15 source countries to help alleviate the ongoing labour shortage crisis.

On Wednesday (Sept 21), it approved the recruitment of 10,000 Sri Lankan workers into Malaysia in an effort to get employers to hire more labour workers from other source countries.

It was previously reported that over two million foreign workers returned home due to the Covid-19 pandemic which caused the ongoing labour shortage.

This ongoing labour shortage was previously reported to have resulted in the loss of billions for employers from various sectors with the plantation sector alone expected to have lost over RM32bil in revenue.

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