Saturday, August 15

Masir: New foreign worker levy policy not applicable in Sarawak

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KUCHING: The new foreign worker levy policy that compels employers to be responsible in footing the levy of foreign workers will not affect Sarawak at present.

Deputy Home Affairs Minister Masir Kujat confirmed this after consulting the ministry’s deputy secretary general (Policy and Control) Dato Suriani Ahmad.

“I have called the deputy secretary general. She said the new policy is not applicable to Sarawak at the present moment,” Masir told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is also Home Affairs Minister had on New Year Eve announced that employers would have to pay for the levy of their foreign workers.

He said effective Jan 1, employers were not allowed to impose levy on foreign workers by deducting it from their salaries under the newly-introduced Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC).

Zahid’s statement has been received with much confusion by local entrepreneurs as many believed the new policy would take effect in Sarawak while others took an uncertain stand.  It is undeniable that there has been much anxiety pending further clarification on the issue.

Masir’s confirmation is expected to receive a round of applause and appreciation from local entrepreneurs who basically were objecting to it.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sarawak president Hu Yu Siang when contacted said the policy, if implemented, would adversely affect the state’s economy especially in construction, plantation and manufacturing sectors, and also business establishments such as coffee shops and restaurants.

“A meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday where more than 150 associations objected to it. There were some Sarawakian associations in the midst.

“We are strongly objecting to it because it will increase our production cost by 10 to 20 per cent. In view of the economic slowdown, it is not the right time to implement such a policy. It would put on more stress on our economy,” he said.

A local businessmen Tiong Kiong King said Sarawak had autonomy over immigration and the state also had its own set of labour laws. He was thus uncertain if the new labour rule would be effective here.

“We  have to find out if Sarawak can be exempted from the new rule. Sarawak is not as advanced as Peninsular Malaysia. We do need extra help to boost our economy. We hope Sarawak can be exempted,” he said.

The owner of an Indonesian worker service provider William Sandra said though worried about the issue, until now, there had been no clear directive whether it would be effective in Sarawak.

“We are uncertain about its implementation, whether Sarawak is affected or not. We are still checking with the relevant local authorities but they are as uncertain as us,” he said.