[Updated] Freeze on foreign workers' quota to continue, says Saifuddin

PUTRAJAYA: The cabinet has agreed to continue the freeze on the foreign workers quota that was introduced in March, last year.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said there was no need to lift the freeze as the total quota that was approved was already enough.

"Alongside the recalibration programme, the quota is already enough and through this, the country can meet the workforce needs," he told reporters today.

On March 1 last year, the quota application and approval for foreign workers including through the Foreign Worker Employment Relaxation Plan was suspended for all sectors.

However, employers were also given up to 18 months to bring in foreign workers to Malaysia after paying the levy.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin added that the cabinet during today's meeting had also agreed to establish a one-stop centre to expedite the application process of migrant workers.

The centre, he said, will be placed under the supervision of the Home Ministry.

At the same time, the government has also agreed to review the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with 15 source countries on the hiring and recruitment of foreign workers, he said.

The review, however, would start with three countries — Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh — as these three contributed 77 per cent of foreign workers in the country.

"The decision was approved in line with the decision of the joint committee on the management of foreign workers, the Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry," he said, adding that the review will touch on contract agreements, costs as well as fees among others.

Saifuddin had previously said the government would revisit all MoUs with 15 source countries on the hiring and recruitment of foreign workers.

Besides Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh, Malaysia currently takes in workers from Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and India.

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