PUTRAJAYA, May 20 — The projected ceiling for foreign worker intake, set not to exceed 15 per cent of the national workforce by the Ministry of Economy, is expected to be met by December 31 this year, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said.

He said currently, 17.1 million out of 34 million Malaysians are considered part of the labour force.

“The 15 per cent ceiling set by the Ministry of Economy means that the total number of foreign workers nationwide must not exceed this limit.

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“...and we anticipate reaching this ceiling by the end of this year,” he told newsmen after attending a joint committee meeting with Human Resources Minister Steven Sim Chee Keong here today.

He said this projection includes the existing number of foreign workers, those for whom employers have received quota approvals, and those registered under the Workforce Recalibration Programme.

He said that the freeze on the entry of foreign workers will be maintained.

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Saifuddin Nasution also said that today’s meeting agreed to allow the first-time employment of foreign boat captains over the age of 60 starting this year.

He said this decision was made considering that boat captains have significant experience and the fishing sector contributes RM16.5 billion annually.

“We are allowing the employment of boat captains aged 60 and above, with a maximum period not exceeding 36 months because the temporary work visit pass is renewed every six months. During the monsoon season, the boat captains do not go out to sea,” he said.

He said currently, the number of boat captains permitted for employment is 332, and this is limited to three years only.

“After that, we will conduct a review and request the ministry to draft an ‘exit policy’ and incorporate current technology to ensure the sustainability of our fishing industry,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sim said the Human Resources Ministry (Kesuma) supports the joint committee’s decision to extend the freeze on foreign worker entry quotas.

Previously, Sim said the government decided to maintain the freeze on new foreign worker entry quotas as the number of workers in the country was nearing the target set under the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK12).

He said according to the Immigration Department, as of March 15, there were 2,171,798 foreign workers in the country. — Bernama