Kuala Lumpur : As global recession-hit Malaysia tightens rules so that jobs are created for locals and entry of foreign workers is curbed, the Human Resource Minister Wednesday said he would urge a delay in doubling the levy on employers who hire foreign workers.
Minister S. Subramaniam, an ethnic Indian, said he would ask Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak to give employers a grace period. He would also raise the matter in cabinet.
He said the proposal to increase the levy did not come from his ministry and the government had no intention of disrupting or forcing the closure of employers’ operations by hiking the levy.
“Instead, the move is to create more employment opportunities for locals. This is a serious effort by the government to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign labour,” he was quoted as saying by Star Online Wednesday.
He said many employers had met him to voice their woes following the government’s decision to raise the levy on foreign workers.
“When the government introduces a new measure or ruling, it is not meant to cause difficulties to any quarters but was done with good intentions.
“However, I will bring up the employers’ grouse to the cabinet for discussion,” he said.
Four national associations of restaurant owners recently urged the government to scrap the proposed levy increase to RM3,600 ($1,000) from RM1,800.
The four are the Indian Restaurant Owners Association, Malaysia Muslim Restaurant Owners Association, Chinese Restaurant Owners Association and Bumiputera Restaurant Owners Association.
Last Wednesday, many restaurant operators threatened to raise prices of their food citing increased labour cost if the government decided to go ahead with the plan to raise the levy.
Malaysia has an estimated three million foreign workers from South Asia, especially India and Bangladesh, and from neighbouring Southeast Asian countries.
Its prosperous economy is heavily dependent upon this work force, both skilled and semi-skilled, in industry and service sector. However, it is having to curb the intake to create jobs for the locals.