KUALA LUMPUR – Industry players incurred losses over RM7.7 billion following the government’s freeze on the intake of foreign workers in February this year.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the Dewan Rakyat today that the local furniture industry had incurred losses over RM6.7 billion and the plantation industry losses of over RM1 billion.
He said these losses were due to the industry players’ difficulties in supplying to both local and international market demands because of insufficient workforce.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said the furniture industry was facing problems in delivering its product orders on time to the foreign market.
“Furniture exporters have signed agreements with foreign buyers but they cannot fulfil the obligations due to insufficient workforce.
“I know that the furniture industry alone needs more than 8,000 Bangladeshi employees and they are waiting for the freeze on the intake to be lifted due to production issues,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid noted that despite repeated requests and demands from the industry to take foreign workers, the decision to freeze the intake remains as status quo.
Meanwhile, he said the plantation industry has faced difficulties in collecting the fresh fruit bunches (FFB) on time due to insufficient workers.
Ahmad Zahid said the plantation industry was also facing workers shortage, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, which have separate immigration laws if compared to the Peninsula.
He added that the current foreign workers intake, which is now limited to manufacturing, trade and services, would be expanded to the construction industry.
In February, the government suspended the recruitment of all foreign workers to Malaysia, including those from Bangladesh, which was enforced with immediate effect.
On Monday Ahmad Zahid said that there was some 90,000 applications to legalise illegal immigrants in the country, but more than 50% of the applications were disqualified due to incomplete verification.
THE SUN DAILY