The government, under the National Security Council (MKN), is studying the possibility of allowing refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia to work temporarily in the plantation sector as a way to overcome the shortage in workforce, the Dewan Negara was told today.
Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof, who is also plantation and commodities minister, said the government, under MKN, currently bans refugees and asylum seekers from working in any sector, including the plantation sector.
"There was a pioneer project previously implemented by the government that allowed these groups to work, but the project failed and the matter is under review by the MKN," he said during the winding-up session of the Supply Bill 2023.
The matter was brought up by Dominic Lau Hoe Chai.
Fadillah also said the government was committed to spurring the agri-commodity sector through various efforts to ensure that agri-commodity products are competitive and focused on the development and commercialisation of technology.
"My ministry is always committed to implementing methods to modernise equipment and methods of planting in the oil palm sector, including intensifying the promotion of mechanisation and automation through the Mechanisation and Automation Research Consortium of Oil Palm (Marcop)," Fadillah said.
His ministry and industry players also funded Marcop through matching grants of RM60 million in 2021, with 23 applications received so far, he added.
"Also, RM50 million in funds has been prepared this year through matching grants as announced in Budget 2023, to encourage automation and plantation through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence," he said.
On upgrading the biodiesel programme from B10 to B30 as set out in the 12th Malaysia Plan, Fadillah said this was subject to the availability of infrastructure at the depots involved and would take at least three to four years.
"There is a need to review the target. Currently, the B10 programme in the transport sector is mandatory in Malaysia and the B20 programme has been implemented in Langkawi, Labuan, Sarawak except for Bintulu," he added.