KOTA KINABALU August 28, 2011: The government should look for an alternative method of reducing foreign workers in the country, instead of increasing the levy for foreign workers as it had decided on Friday.
Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) president Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau said the state needed foreign workers because of the inadequate number of local people willing to work in agriculture, plantation, production, service and construction sectors.
“The government should consider giving incentives such as tax exemption to encourage employers to hire local workers.
“It is not because our sectors do not want to hire locals but we cannot find any local interested. Our population is low. The government has been talking about setting up a minimum wage for workers in these sectors, so locals should grab this opportunity,” he told the thesundaypost yesterday when commenting on the RM50 increase in levy on foreign workers in all sectors that will take effect from Sept 1 this year.
Following this increase, the levy for maids and agriculture workers will be RM410, plantation RM590, production and construction RM1,250 and service sector RM1,850.
Home Ministry secretary general Tan Sri Mahmood Adam who announced the increase in levy on Friday said the new rate for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan would be RM1,010 for workers in the production and construction sectors, and RM1,490 for the service sector.
Mahmmod had said the increase was among the initiatives suggested by the foreign workers’ laboratory in managing foreign workers. The decision was made after a careful study, including taking into account the last increase in 2005.
Meanwhile, Wong said there is also a need to standardise the levy across all sectors in view of the many different levies.
According to Wong, with the increase in levy more employers will be charging their workers because the workers have to pay for it.
“If this is happening, it will encourage more employers to hire illegal workers. Increasing levy will never overcome the main issue, which is to reduce foreign workers in the country,” he added.
Wong stressed that the country would need extra enforcement on the illegal workers’ issue as the increase in levy would create another problem.