Master Builders asks Govt to fully subsidise Covid-19-related costs involving foreign workers

Master Builders asks Govt to fully subsidise Covid-19-related costs involving foreign workers
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 27): Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) has urged the Government to look into giving full subsidy on the cost of quarantining, Covid-19 screening and medically treating foreign workers.

This is to ease the burden of the construction industry and encourage mass screening using affordable test kits, the association said.

“It is not fair to pass on the foreign workers quarantine, Covid-19 screening and medical treatment costs wholly to contractors as employers in the construction industry are also facing an increase in financial burden.

“At this time, as far as we know, clients are unwilling to share such costs as all these are costs that were not predicted, thus creating cash flow issues for contractors,” it said in a statement today.

MBAM said this was among the issues and proposals discussed during virtual engagement sessions held with the Ministry of Works and Construction Industry Development Board in the past week.

During the discussion, MBAM also mentioned the need to review the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Bill 2020 as the industry needs sufficient time and cost sharing.

Under the Bill, the inability of a party to perform any obligation for certain categories of contracts (construction contracts included) due to efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 over a specified period shall not give rise to the other party or parties exercising his or their rights under the contract.

“Currently, developers are given 167 days by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government but there is nothing stated for contractors and there are also too many additional compliance costs for contractors to absorb at the moment,” it said.

MBAM suggested these costs should be borne equally by both contractors and clients.

The association also hoped the Government would allow temporary permits to be issued to school and factory bus operators to allow them to ferry workers so that the movement could be under control.

“Currently, there is difficulty in transferring workers from their off-site accommodation to sites as there is not enough transportation available,” it said.

MBAM also proposed to change the naming convention for Centralised Labour Quarters (CLQ) to “penempatan pekerja” to avoid confusion over the term CLQ.

“Off-site worker accommodations that comply with Act 446 should also be allowed under the Building Construction Works category but in a controlled environment with restricted movement,” it said.