MELAKA, May 6 — The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) is working to obtain a government exemption from the foreign labour hiring freeze in order to secure 20,000 foreign workers.
Its minister, Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, said this was important in view of the plantation and commodity sector being the largest group that was dependent on foreign workers.
“We have obtained the in-principle approval to get foreign workers for the oil palm sector and will be negotiating to secure foreign workers for the timber sector as well,” he told reporters after attending a dialogue session under the Jerayawara Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) 2021 roadshow here today.
Also present were MTC chairman Mazli Zakuan Mohd Noor and Melaka agriculture, agro-based industry, entrepreneur development and cooperative committee chairman Datuk Nohizam Hassan Baktee.
To alleviate the temporary foreign worker shortage in the timber sector, Mohd Khairuddin said, MPIC had provided various funds as incentives to attract local workers.
This included giving space for the companies in the sector to do promotions on a website under the Human Resources Ministry as well as offering training for those interested in entering the field, he said.
Meanwhile, he said the timber industry’s operational transformation towards the adoption of automation and digitalisation seemed to be the best move for reducing dependence on foreign labour.
“As the third largest commodity subsector after oil palm and rubber, the timber industry also faces various challenges including the challenges related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Therefore, MTC has set aside RM2.8 million from its RM28.3 million development fund to assist in the industry’s operational transformation towards automation and digitalisation,” he added. — Bernama