PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s economic recovery will be boosted by the lifting of the ban on hiring foreign workers, say business groups.

National Association of Human Resources Malaysia president Zarina Ismail said employers have been anticipating this.

“Most employers in the construction, farming, manufacturing and service sectors like to hire foreign workers, especially from countries that share the same culture with us.

“Hopefully, this move can help employers, which would indirectly contribute to Malaysia’s economy as well,” she said.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said lifting the ban would allow the sector to clear the backlog and unclog disrupted production to meet increasing market demand.

“As a whole, FMM and the manufacturing sector welcome the decision announced by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan regarding the reopening of foreign employment applications.

“It will allow employers in the manufacturing sector to intensify efforts to reorganise their workforce to meet market demand,” he added.

As almost all sectors have been affected by the lack of manpower, Soh said the government should also provide some leeway to industry players, citing the need to reduce the regulatory cost burden on employers.

Among the sectors significantly affected are electrical and electronics, food and beverage, chemicals and chemical products, as well as fabricated metal and rubber products.

“Given the current challenging cost pressures faced by industries, the government should not add any further costs to employers.

“For example, the industry has requested the Human Resources Ministry temporarily put on hold the implementation of the amendments to the Employment Act, which is set to come into force next month, as there are many cost-related impacts,” he said.

SME Association of Malaysia national president Ding Hong Sing said the lack of foreign workers has been an issue plaguing SMEs and even plantations across the country since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Malaysia.

With the hiring freeze to be lifted soon, he said the government must also come up with consistent policies so that SMEs and businessmen can run their operations smoothly.

“It’s really hard to get locals because most of them are interested in p-hailing jobs or working as dispatch riders as it is more flexible.

“Besides that, there are many businesses in the 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) category. Many locals don’t want these jobs,” said Ding, adding that the government must ensure that the hiring process of foreign workers is made simpler even as it lifts the hiring freeze.

On Tuesday, Saravanan announced the temporary freeze on applications to hire foreign workers being lifted starting tomorrow after considering requests from the industry.