By Matthew Ooi
THE Government recently announced that the COVID-19 vaccines will also be given free to foreigners in Malaysia. As an employer who has 17 foreign workers in my plantation, this is good news.
Based on previous reports, each dose of COVID-19 vaccine is around RM77. If a booster shot is required, depending on the vaccine brand, the costs per head could be around RM150.
I am “lucky” to have only less than 20 foreign workers. Even then, the vaccination costs would come up to over RM2,000 – a sizable sum given the tough times.
What about those employers who hire by the hundreds and thousands? I know many employers, particularly those in the manufacturing sector who have thousands of foreign workers under their payroll. One thousand workers would translate into vaccination costs of RM150,000.
Being able to save on such costs can go a long way for employers. As it is, many employers who hire foreigners are facing a double whammy of weak demand as well increased operating costs owing to the pandemic. Just about every sector has seen demand plummet.
Worse still, employers have forked out a lot to invest on better living and working conditions for foreigners, in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
But with the Government bearing the vaccination costs for our foreign workers, it not only helps ease employers’ financial burden, it provides comfort to the business community that our economic recovery is given top priority. As we know, we are a nation still dependent on foreign labour.
Any hiccups to the activities of these sectors will have a trickledown effect on the economy at large.
We have seen how the productivity in sectors like manufacturing and construction nosedived when COVID-19 clusters were detected there. Many of our COVID-19 clusters originated from foreign workers’ living quarters.
With the vaccine landing on our shores soon, the Government has rightly prioritised on economic recovery. As for an economy still highly dependent on foreign labour, providing free vaccines to these workers is sending a right message that we are serious in getting our economy back on its feet. Well done! – Feb 17, 2021
Matthew Ooi is from Bandar Baru Nilai, Negeri Sembilan.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.