Retailers want long-term solution to foreign worker issues

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) wants to work with the government to structure a long-term solution to issues relating to the hiring of foreign workers.

Immigration authorities have started a crackdown against illegal foreign workers, part of a nationwide effort to deal with undocumented workers after applications for the Enforcement Card (E-Card), a temporary worker permit, closed on June 30.

MRCA president Datuk Garry Chua said retailers try their best to minimise dependency on foreign workers, but pointed out that certain retailers have no choice but to employ foreigners due to a shortage of manpower.

“We don’t think this problem (foreign workers) can be resolved overnight. What’s important is the process, we’ve to start now to alleviate the dependency on foreign workers,” he told reporters after opening the Malaysia International Retail & Franchise Exhibition (MIRF) 2017 here yesterday.

Chua, who is also group managing director of Rotol Group which owns and operates a chain of restaurants, including Chakri Palace, Rainforest outlets and Sanook, said his restaurants employ locals from Sabah and Sarawak.

Earlier, he said MRCA expects to see a 20% growth in transaction value at the four-day MIRF 2017 here this year, from RM50 million last year. MRCA has raised the bar with 260 exhibitors for the second edition of MIRF, from 230 last year, attracting exhibitors from Taiwan, Singapore, China, the Philippines and more.

The event was officiated by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin. 

At the event, ManagePay Systems Bhd launched the MRCA Ringgit Rewards MasterCard Card. The MasterCard Prepaid Card allows customers to load a desired amount, which can then be used in lieu of cash at participating MRCA outlets and receive purchase benefits such as immediate discounts or cash backs. 

Also at the event, MIRF 2017 diamond sponsor Mah Sing Group Bhd launched its Business Incentive Grant programme for the group’s commercial products. The programme will provide eligible applicants with business grants of maximum RM800,000 each should they purchase one of Mah Sing’s six participating projects. 

Retailers and franchise owners are a large customer base for Mah Sing as 28% of its remaining gross development value and unbilled sales are commercial developments, across Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu.