PM, ministers under fire for historic low ringgit, foreign labour shortage

SEVERAL Cabinet members, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, have come under fire from opposition leaders over the historic 24-year-low of the ringgit and ongoing issues relating to the country’s shortage of foreign labourers. 

DAP leader Lim Lip Eng slammed the “silence” from Ismail and Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz over the ringgit hitting “rock bottom”, while party chairman Lim Guan Eng criticised Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan over the low success rate of foreign worker applications.  

Lip Eng asked the Government to be upfront and state if the country is now in a recession, saying the nation “cannot afford to be lied to anymore” after the ringgit’s “staggering” drop on Wednesday (Sept 8) to 4.5010/5035 against the greenback.

The Kepong MP also asked: if the lowest performance of the ringgit against the US dollar since the Asian financial crisis of 1997 was not considered an economic crisis, then what is? 

“This is a question that everyone on the street is asking the undemocratic ‘backdoor’ Government led by Ismail,” he said in a statement today. 

Lim Lip Eng (Photo credit: The Malaysian Insight)

The Kuala Lumpur DAP secretary also called on Government leaders to inform the nation how they plan on “riding out the economic storm” rather than “letting our country remain running on ‘autopilot’ mode”. 

“Many are appalled with the lack of initiatives by Ismail to help them during the current economic downturn,” he claimed. 

Lip Eng spoke as well about prices of imported goods going up as a result of the exchange rate, which will see inflation going up and the middle 40 and bottom 40 income groups (M40 and B40) affected. 

On top of that, the “suffering” of the people may also exacerbate as a result of the recent increase in base lending rates by banks following Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)’s raising of the overnight policy rate (OPR), he warned. 

“Efforts should be made right now to improve the economy instead of going for another general election,” he added. 

Symbolic of his broken promises”  

Meanwhile, Guan Eng said the 12% success rate of foreign workers arriving in Malaysia symbolises how Saravanan’s “broken promises” will hinder efforts by all industries to overcome the 1.2 mil worker shortage.  

Lim Guan Eng (Photo credit: Bernama) 

He noted that the local palm oil industry will lose up to RM20 bil by the end of the year as a result of thousands of tonnes of fruits left to rot as the third year of a worker shortage of 120,000 foreign workers has left companies unable to increase their harvesting during the peak production season.   

According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Association’s estimates, only 47,000 foreign workers have entered Malaysia since January 2022 – or 12% out of 385,000 approvals for migrant workers granted to companies across all industry sectors. 

“As a result, palm oil output in Malaysia, the world’s second-largest producer, is forecast to decline from last year’s 18.1 mil tonnes at a time when production should be ramped up, a terrible cost of the failure of the current Government,” Guan Eng said in a statement. 

The former finance minister also made reference to the urgent need for labour in the electrical and electronic products (E&E) and glove and auto spare parts industries, as well as the impact of a lack of labour on mamak restaurants, 1,500 of which are expected to close as a result. 

“When are the hundreds of thousand foreign workers promised to come into the country?” he asked. “Such an egregious blunder will adversely impact the investment climate in the country.” 

With only a 12% success rate of foreign workers entering Malaysia against approvals, Guan Eng said Saravanan has “failed and failed miserably” and called for a new minister to take over. 

“A new minister is needed to help and not harm businesses by cutting the red tape surrounding the many applications, implement an efficient processing system for a quick turnaround on the huge backlog of applications and adopt decentralisation to the respective states via a One Stop Centre (OSC) approach.   

“Otherwise, the unconscionable delay in the recruitment of migrant labour will force some businesses to go under,” the Bagan MP warned, adding that it is “preferable” that Saravanan goes instead. – Sept 11, 2022  


Main photo credit: Bernama

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