Friday, May 20, 2022

Speed up approval for foreign workers to prevent further losses, recovery council tells govt

MPN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin says conditional approval should be given as a short-term measure for applications currently under review.

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The National Recovery Council (MPN) today urged the government to expedite the approval of applications by foreign workers to tackle the country’s labour woes given Malaysia’s transition towards the endemic phase which began on April 1.

MPN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said the council had noted a significant decline of more than 20% in the total workforce since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of Feb 15, he said, the government had allowed applications for the recruitment of foreign workers in all sectors.

However, only 163 out of 4,561 applications have been processed so far.

Muhyiddin said this had caused many sectors to incur losses, especially the agriculture and manufacturing industries which were experiencing labour constraints following the reopening of the economy.

“MPN calls for the approval of applications to be expedited by reducing bureaucratic red tape and simplifying and improving the approval process to meet industries’ demand for labour.

“If possible, consider and approve the recruitment of foreign workers by the end of the year,” he said after chairing an MPN meeting at the finance ministry in Putrajaya.

As a short-term measure, he said, MPN recommended that conditional approval be given for applications under review to expedite the supply of foreign labour to the affected sectors.

Human Resources Minister M Saravanan recently said that Malaysia was expected to receive 500,000 foreign workers from Bangladesh beginning this month.

This followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the country in December last year regarding the recruitment of workers, effective for five years until December 2026.

The move came under fire from unions such as the Malaysian Trades Union Congress which said a sudden influx of foreign workers would affect local workers.

Muhyiddin meanwhile said that MPN was considering a review of MySejahtera as a tool for close contact tracing to help assess the effectiveness of the app in the endemic phase.

He said the health ministry had, at a briefing by health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, voiced its opinion that the app should still be used.

“The health ministry said it was still needed as the data is used to control the spread of Covid-19 in the country,” he said.

“So we leave it to the health ministry to decide if MySejahtera should still be used.”

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