KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — Putrajaya is looking into setting up a digital platform to simplify the recruitment of foreign workers that will bypass the need for a middleman and cut costs.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has tasked both the Home Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry to look into implementing the new hiring method, The Star reported today.

“Why must we go through that process — physical interviews — when you can, to a large extent, do away with that?

“The cost [of hiring maids] now is exorbitant,” he was quoted as saying in Jakarta yesterday at the conclusion of his first official visit to Indonesia after taking office.

Anwar acknowledged the current discrepancy in charges to recruit foreign workers, especially for domestic helpers, saying that even though the government has set the limit at RM15,000 per worker, the market cost of hiring one is actually between RM10,000 and RM20,000.

He said such discrepancies cannot continue and that he had spoken to Indonesian President Joko Widodo that the system needed an overhaul as it involved migrant workers from other countries like Bangladesh.

“We need to cleanse the system,” Anwar told the press.

The Star also reported that Anwar was asked if his government would review the terms of the current memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the placement and protection of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia.

The PM indicated that it was unnecessary to do so at the moment.

“I am confident that it can be solved with commitment and political will. I even brought two ministers here with me,” he replied, referring to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz who were part of the official delegation.

Anwar added that his government is now legalising undocumented migrant workers and that the terms under the MOU were reasonable.

The MOU signed on March 31 last year aims to ensure that all recruitment processes and protection mechanisms for Indonesian workers in Malaysia are implemented in a comprehensive manner, in line with the policies and laws of both countries.