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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ministry: S'wak employers exempt from new levy law

It is believed that the new rule could not apply in the state due to Sarawak's autonomy in immigration issues, including in the issuance of permits for foreign workers.

Employers in Sarawak are exempted from having to pay the levy for foreign workers under the home ministry’s newly-introduced Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC), the Borneo Post reported.

This was revealed by Deputy Home Minister II Masir Kujat, who confirmed the exemption with the ministry’s deputy secretary-general (Policy and Control) Suriani Ahmad.

“I have called the deputy secretary-general. She said the new policy is not applicable to Sarawak at the present moment,” Masir told the Sarawak-based daily yesterday.

On Dec 31, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced the implementation of the EMC from Jan 1, and that employers would be disallowed from deducting the levy from the wages of their workers.

Zahid, who is also home minister, said this policy change would ensure that bosses were more responsible in taking care of their workers and avert cases of foreign workers running away, changing sectors of work illegally, and overstaying and becoming illegal immigrants.

It is believed that the new rule could not apply in the state due to Sarawak’s autonomy in immigration issues, including in the issuance of work passes.

Like in the peninsula, the announcement was initially not received well by employers in Sarawak, with many businesses voicing their concern pending further clarification on the matter.

However, Masir’s confirmation is expected to please Sarawak employers, especially those represented by the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sarawak, which had strongly objected to the new rule following the announcement.

The group’s president Hu Yu Siang had said, prior to Masir’s confirmation, that the new rule would adversely affect the state’s economy especially in construction, plantation and manufacturing sectors, and also business establishments such as coffee shops and restaurants.

“A meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday where more than 150 associations objected to it. There were some Sarawakian associations present as well.

“We are strongly objecting to it because it will increase our production cost by 10 to 20%. In view of the economic slowdown, it is not the right time to implement such a policy. It would put more stress on our economy,” he was quoted as saying by Borneo Post.

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