President Message October/November 2020
COMPLIANCE TO STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOPs) FOR CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY BY MINISTRY OF WORKS
According to the FAQ by Ministry of Works dated 18 November 2020, swab test is mandatory for foreign workers working in the construction sector and security guards. Any foreign worker or local worker suspected of having Covid-19 symptoms should be immediately isolated and taken for a Covid-19 test swab. Foreign workers and local workers with symptoms need to be certified negative before being allowed to work. Employers and employees need to keep records of the results of previous swab tests for reference by the authorities.
In workers accommodation, workers are also required to observe strict SOPs such as keeping a safe social distancing at communal area, while keeping the site clean and safe. The industry needs to comply with Section 24J, Employee’s Minimum Standard of Housing, Accommodation and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) namely regarding duties and responsibilities related to the safety and health of employees. Please refer to the updated SOPs made by the Government authorities for further details.
APPEAL FOR GOVERNMENT SUPPORT TO ENSURE A SAFER COVID-19 FREE WORKPLACE FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
MBAM appeals to the Government to provide subsidy to make the cost of health maintenance like sanitisation process and purchase of PPE cheap and easily available. There is also a need to identify more health check centres and labs to avoid congestions and long waiting time. Government should also consider the provision of centralised labour camp for quarantine purposes and to bear the full cost. Predetermined locations or buildings for each region in the country to house (foreign) workers that need to be quarantined as instructed by the Ministry of Health.
BUDGET 2021 & THE CONSTRUCTION ECONOMY
MBAM is delighted that the Government has answered its call to continue on with the billion-dollar infrastructure projects to lift the country out of the current economic misery. Mega projects like the Pan Borneo Highway listed in the proposed RM15 billion allocation including the Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double-tracking rail and the MRT3, will trigger a construction boom, provide multiplier impacts to more than 190 industries downstream and the annual construction growth is expected to hit 13.9% in 2021.
There are also RM3.8 billion in allocation for several large infrastructure road projects and a slew of other allocations for construction-related projects that will bring the total allocations to about RM38.7 billion.
MBAM is also very happy that the government has offered tax incentives for contractors to adopt Industrialised Building System which, studies have shown, will reduce cost, delivery time, dependency on foreign workers, worksite accidents, and raise productivity and quality.
In view of the large numbers of projects that will be rolled out next year amid a COVID-19 pandemic that may still be raging on next year, MBAM feels the government should introduce an online tender system for transparent and timely project implementation. Online tender with its attendant safeguards will enable approving authorities to respond faster at a time when the staff strength working in their offices has drastically reduced to a third and travelling for tender submission and site visits restricted due to the pandemic. In this regards, the Government should also speed up the implementation of high-impact infrastructure projects by privatising them or via Public Private Partnership.
For a long time, the construction industry’s call to the government to legalise the large number of undocumented foreign workers in the country. The recent Labour Recalibration and Repatriation Recalibration Plans for Peninsular Malaysia only are two measures that will tackle the twin problems at hand; utilised the present large pool of undocumented foreign workers (many of them jobless) to fill vacancies which locals have shunned while allowing those who want to return to their home countries to do so. However, MBAM’s concerns relate to its implementation which are the quantum contractors would be fined, the time taken to approve rehiring during the pandemic. Having to manage labour shortage and the fallouts of the pandemic, contractors have yet another guideline to comply with, the need to advertise vacancies to hire new workers on the MYFutureJobs portal from Nov 1, though the effective date has since been deferred to Jan 1, 2021, after an outcry. Such red tape – yet another regulatory burden, is cumbersome and time consuming and defeats the purpose of speeding up rehiring to ease the labour shortage.
SMALL DEBT RESOLUTION SCHEME
As part of Bank Negara Malaysia’s continuous efforts to assist the industry, we would like to draw your attention to the Small Debt Resolution Scheme (SDRS) which is a programme offered to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) facing business financing problem with financial institutions through restructuring or rescheduling of the existing financing. Services under SDRS are offered free of charge.
Who is eligible?
- Malaysian-owned companies (at least 51%) in all economic sectors.
- Meet the SME definition criteria:
- Number of full time employees not exceeding 200; or
- Annual sales turnover not more than RM50 million.
- SMEs facing financial difficulties with financing from financial institutions.
- Applicable for business related financing only.
Applicant can obtain the SDRS application form from:
- Participating financial institutions (PFIs)
- BNMLINK / BNM Offices
- BNM website: www.bnm.gov.my
- SMEinfo portal: www.smeinfo.com.my
MBAM members should contact BNM directly on the above matter.
Lastly, we hope MBAM members will stay resilient and safe during these challenging times.
Foo Chek Lee JMW