Revert to RM1,850 levy for foreign workers, says Wee

Former minister Wee Ka Siong says Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng should do his homework on the foreign workers’ levy. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: An MCA leader said the government should revert to the RM1,850 levy previously imposed on foreign workers instead of the RM10,000 for a three-year renewal.

MCA deputy president Wee Ka Siong said the previous government approved extensions of work permits via the home ministry and charged RM1,850 or lower for renewals.

He said while there had been no policy on the matter during Barisan Nasional’s administration, employers could get their workers’ permits renewed on a case-by-case basis by submitting letters to the ministry.

“Once approved, the annual levy for these foreign workers remained at the existing rate of RM1,850 or lower. These foreign workers are not entitled to permanent residency.

“(Finance Minister) Lim Guan Eng should do more homework to gain a better understanding on the practices of the previous government, instead of insisting that the BN administration did not offer this option at all and urging the business operators to be grateful.

“In truth, the previous practice was more business-friendly and convenient. He should be embarrassed by his lack of knowledge,” Wee said in a statement.

Under the new scheme introduced by Lim, foreign workers who held temporary foreign worker permits and had been employed for 10 years could extend their employment duration for a maximum of three years with a levy of RM10,000.

Lim had initially said that the workers would pay 80% of the RM10,000 levy and employers would pay the rest. However, the government reversed the decision after much debate in the media and required employers to pay the levy in full.

Lim had said those who could not afford to pay the levy could get their workers to leave the country and re-enter again, where they will be charged the usual RM1,850 for their work permits.

Wee also said that Lim’s idea of having the workers sent back and returning again on a lower levy meant that the policy was “toothless and ineffective”.

He said Lim should do his homework before saying BN did not have such options, adding that BN was more business-friendly.

“The strong opposition from the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) on this new policy proves that it is putting greater pressure on their shoulders, compared to the old practice.

“If the government can guarantee a more convenient extension policy while retaining the existing levy rate, I am sure the local businesses will welcome this new policy with open arms,” Wee added.