KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 2): The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) has welcomed the government’s move to issue temporary work permits to illegal foreign workers to address the labour shortage currently seen in the plantation sector here.
In a statement, the association’s chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Mohamad Nageeb Abdul Wahab said the decision will help address the acute shortage of workers that had resulted in 20% to 30% of potential production not being realised.
“Resolving this particular issue shall allow the industry to optimise returns from current bullish prices as well as help the government in its tax revenue,” he said.
In the same vein, he appealed to the government to consider allowing guest workers who are currently in their respective countries of origin to return to Malaysia, as well as allow for the current pause in foreign worker recruitment in the sector to end soon.
He noted that the Malaysian plantation industry had made real efforts to recruit Malaysian nationals for plantation work, but the response had been “lukewarm till now”.
Mohamad Nageeb also stated that the MPOA is seriously looking at automating and mechanising estate operations in order to reduce its dependency on guest workers, but noted that effective implementation can only be visible in the near future.
“We are fully appreciative of the government's efforts to resolve the industry and smallholders' current predicament and recognising the importance of the oil palm sector's contribution to the well-being of the country’s economy, and we sincerely hope that this latest initiative will be implemented soonest possible.
"The industry gives its assurance that all SOPs (standard operating procedures) and guidelines introduced by the government will be strictly adhered to and complied with, and we shall wholeheartedly support all efforts made to address the Covid-19 pandemic in the country,” he concluded.
Last Friday, Bernama reported Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as saying the government was mulling giving temporary licences to foreign workers.