KUCHING: The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) is relieved that the new foreign worker levy policy compelling employers to foot the levy for foreign workers effective Jan 1, 2017 is not applicable to Sarawak.
Soppoa, in a press statement yesterday said Deputy Home Affairs Minister Masir Kujat had assured that he had spoken to the Home Ministry’s secretary general who reaffirmed that Sarawak would be exempted from the new policy which has drawn heavy protests in the peninsula.
Soppoa is relieved as the decision to force employers to pay the annual levy for foreign workers was a shock to employers as it was made without prior consultation or notification.
Soppoa viewed such a knee jerk ruling would be detrimental to the industry as it would inevitably place additional cost burden on the oil palm industry which was already one of the most heavily taxed industries.
The operational cost of managing oil palm estates has seen a steady increase over the years due to, among other factors, the upward review of the minimum wage.
“Any further increase is bound to erode the competitive edge of our oil palm industry. Another worrisome consequence is that the increase in manpower recruitment cost will result in more illegal workers,” Soppoa said in the statement.
Soppoa strongly urges the government to consult with the industries concerned before the implementation of
policies that will directly and indirectly affect the whole supply chain and exacerbate the labour woes faced by the labour intensive industries in Sarawak.
Soppoa also hopes that the government will be able to maintain the existing system whereby levies are paid by the foreign workers, and it is up to the employers to decide whether to pay on their behalf or to let these workers pay for levies by themselves.
(Taken from the Borneo Post)