KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The spiralling costs to employ foreign workers due to the alleged "monopoly" of a company contracted to manage their visa applications could close businesses down, the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) said today.
The group claimed Bestinet Sdn Bhd, a private company contracted by Putrajaya to handle foreign visa application and medical matters, are charging companies RM125 and RM250 for the respective services, forcing costs up and triggering a chain of other problems, including stalling employment.
At a press conference here, ACCCIM, an umbrella body representing over 28,000 Malaysian Chinese businesses, urged Putrajaya to suspend the mandatory use of Bestinet.
"This can be a disaster and if we don't make a stand now we could face much bigger problems in the future," Lim Kok Boon, the president of Malaysian Plastic Manufacturer Associations, told reporters here.
Lim noted that the cost of visa application for one foreign worker had shot up by 150 per cent. It was only RM50 over the counter.
"If a foreign worker can't pay the RM250, then he can't come to Malaysia," Lim pointed out, before noting that Malaysia already faces a worker shortage.
Lim said the cost to apply a visa for one worker has now shot up 150 per cent. It was only RM50 over the counter previously.
Apart from the RM150 charge for foreign visa applications, the ACCCIM also complained against the newly-imposed RM38 fee for worker permit applications through MyEG, another firm contracted by Putrajaya to handle foreign worker processes.
The group also claimed that Putrajaya's move to grant Bestinet full power to approve or disapprove visa applications is causing complications.
"Sometimes when we ask for 150 workers, we only get 50 workers… when a company asks for 150 workers, there is a reason why," Lim said.
ACCCIM president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok said while the chambers does not reject the government's plan to modernise the system via online processing, it should not give Bestinet full power to approve visa applications.
"That should be the government's responsibility and you cannot outsource this," he said.
He said Bestinet, however, could be given the power to vet applications to ensure they are compliant with legal requirements.
Teo said the new policy would have an adverse impact on all businesses, including many key industries such as construction, plantations, and security services.
Datuk Seri Tan Thiam Peh of the Malaysian Textile Manufacturers Association said the complications arising from the new policy could force labourers to go underground and seek employment illegally.
Opposition lawmakers had previously voiced the same opposition to the new policy, claiming that the move would enrich "cronies" who were behind the companies involved.