‘Unhappy over RM10,000 levy? Leave country and re-enter to pay old rate’

GEORGE TOWN: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says employers reluctant to pay the RM10,000 levy for foreign workers who have been in Malaysia for more than 10 consecutive years can have them leave and re-enter the country to continue paying the old fee of RM1,850.

Speaking on the sidelines of a court hearing today, he said the RM10,000 levy was payable for the extension of a three-year bloc in one lump sum. Under current laws, this is the maximum length of time allowed for extension for workers who have been employed for 10 years.

He said the decision to have the workers pay most of the sum in an 80:20 ratio instead of the employers bearing the full RM10,000 amount was made after discussions with trade unions and employers.

However, after encountering resistance to the idea, Lim said the government had decided to do away with the 80:20 plan in order to safeguard the workers’ interests.

“I am sure there are some complaining that the levy is too high. If that is the case, you can ask them to go back and then return and pay the RM1,850 annual levy they have been paying all this while.

“We are also aware that some do not want to go back. Hence, we feel that what we are asking for in an extension (of three years at RM10,000, after 10 years) is fair.

“If we do not do this, we are faulted. If we do it, we are still faulted. We are merely listening to the people, relaxing the rules for you,” Lim added.

He also said the payment was only applicable to commercial, skilled foreign workers, not foreign domestic helpers.

It was previously reported that foreign workers who hold temporary foreign worker permits and have been employed for 10 years can extend their employment duration for a maximum of three years.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) had also hit out at the reversal in policy, saying there was no discussion of the matter before the announcement.

MEF said the 80:20 deal was not feasible, as foreign workers would have to pay at least RM600 a month. It also warned that this would drive skilled workers out of the country.

MEF said it would make a submission to Putrajaya after a meeting on the issue on Friday.