PETALING JAYA: The government is looking to protect jobs for locals by raising the minimum income threshold for expatriates wishing to work in the country.
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran today said there are plans to raise the minimum salary for applicants under the Category C, from RM3,000 to RM5,000, adding that it is hoped that the move would encourage employers to hire locals instead.
However, Kulasegaran said the views of all parties must be considered before it is implemented, and the government would set up a committee to study the proposal.
“We have been working hard to ensure that only genuinely required expatriates are allowed into the country.”
He said Category C foreigners make up only about 5% of the total applications for expatriate permits.
Of the 71,000 expatriate permits approved last year, only 2,173 applicants were given permits for three years for Category C (knowledged and skilled workers).
The minister added that although approval was given, it did not mean that all of them took up the offer to work here.
Previously, Category C expatriates had comprised the highest group. But from 2018, there had been a downward trend due to the Home Ministry tightening conditions for such applicants.
On a related matter, Kulasegaran said his ministry was encouraging TalentCorp to bring back more Malaysians working overseas under the Returning Expert Programme.
It is estimated that there about 150,000 highly educated Malaysians are abroad. In 2018, 480 returned and for this year, TalentCorp has set a target of 1,000.
“There has been a 20% increase in the number of Malaysians wanting to come back since Pakatan Harapan formed the new government,“ Kulasegaran said.
He added that one way to get Malaysians to return is to direct multinational corporations to Malaysian talent available abroad before they employ expatriates.
Kulasegaran said although there has been an increase in the number of Malaysians wanting to return, TalentCorp must first ensure they have proper employment opportunities.
Even Cabinet ministers are working to attract Malaysian talent to return by taking every available opportunity to meet Malaysians working abroad when they are on overseas trips, he added.