Freeze on foreign workers will delay project completion


(The Star) – Contractors faced with a lack of workers will face the stark choice of either closing shop or using illegal labourers if the freeze on foreign workers is not lifted, said Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM).

Association president Matthew Tee urged the Government to lift the suspension, especially for quotas already approved prior to the suspension order.

The shortage of manpower would affect productivity while delaying the completion of projects, he added.

Tee pointed out that this might result in them having to pay pe­­nalties, which will erode their profit margin further.

He said skilled workers whose permits could not be renewed due to the freeze risk getting arrested and deported.

“Some smaller sub-contractors might even go out of business in the medium to long term if this decision is not reversed because they are dependent on larger contractors to finance the recruitment of foreign workers for them,” he said in a statement.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced the suspension last month while urging employers to recruit Malaysians.

He said the suspension would be in place while the Government reviewed the two-tier levy programme for foreign workers.

He added that the existing illegal workers would be detained and deported.

Tee said some contractors might resort to employing illegal foreign workers to complete projects on time and within budget.

“This will defeat the objective of the suspension, which is to control the number of foreign workers in the country,” he said.