PETALING JAYA: A combination of depreciating local currency, insurance and other incidental costs has made it more expensive for construction companies to hire foreign workers than locals. “The cost for hiring foreign workers has now surpassed that for local workers due to our devalued currency, insurance and other incidental costs in the recruitment process,” Master Builders Association of Malaysia chairman Foo Chek Lee told SunBiz. Speaking on the rehiring process of foreign workers, Foo said while the cost for the rehiring process is high, the rules are also more stringent compared with the 6P programme which ended in 2014. “Previously, under 6P, any illegal foreign worker can register. Now there are more restrictions, such as the illegal must come before March 31, 2016. Under 6P, registration can be done with Immigration Malaysia which is free or via agents at RM30.00. Currently with the rehiring process, employers will have to go through appointed vendors and there is a RM1,200.00 processing fee,” he said. Workers from the construction industry are subject to a levy of RM1,850.The rehiring process which includes vendor charges, immigration charges and insurance could average at about RM3,000. The cost varies according to nationality and industry. The situation has led to a shortage of workers in the labour-intensive construction industry, which in turn has resulted in delays and affected the progress of construction work and maintenance work for buildings and facilities. “The delay will definitely affect the revenue of construction works, which varies from project to project. As it is, the cost of running a construction business has increased, and with the cost of rehiring, the revenue of construction companies will definitely be adversely impacted,” Foo said. He said the rehiring could draw better responses from illegal workers if the conditions imposed are not so strict and if the fee is “not exorbitant”. SunBiz’s attempts to get the comments of the Immigration Department were unsuccessful. The rehiring process was to run from February until June 2016, with three vendors namely MyEG Services Bhd, Bukti Megah Sdn Bhd and International Resources and Net Marketing Sdn Bhd appointed to oversee the process. It has since been extended until December 2017. All three vendors will continue to offer the service until the new year-end deadline.