The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) said industries will be more receptive to a government levy of RM10,000 for three years instead of paying it annually so that employers can maintain skilled foreign workers and groom new skilled workers at the same time. FMM president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said the annual levy of RM10,000 was too high for employers.
“The industries are most likely to accept it if the levy is RM10,000 for three years and not every year. “RM30,000 for three years is too high. It will impact the SMEs. We hope the government can look at improving the competitiveness of the manufacturing and services industry,” Soh said yesterday. He was commenting on a statement by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng that employers would have to bear RM10,000 in full annually to maintain their skilled foreign workers. He urged the government to have a dialogue session with industry players to hear out their proposals.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said stakeholders were not consulted before the decision was announced. He said the levy was also against the principles adopted by many countries, including Singapore, where the levy on skilled employees was lower than other workers.

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang hopes the government would meet the association to discuss a win-win solution. “Our original proposal is for the government to allow a three-year extension period for these workers. “The main idea is to assist the industries and maintain the productivity with their experience,” he said. Datuk Kang explained that within the extension period, the industries would move in automation and machinery operations and local staff would be trained to operate such equipment. “This will reduce the dependency on foreign workers,” he said.