Allow workers from nine countries – SBA
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Builders Association (SBA) welcomes the federal government in spending RM6.5 billion for rural infrastructure development and RM2.2 billion for delivery of housing through government agencies in Sabah and Sarawak.
This will for sure spur more civil and building work contracts which will benefit the construction industry players as a whole.
SBA applauses the allocation of RM4.9 billion to implement the Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) masterplans as this will assist in producing highly skilled and competitive workforce, reducing the reliance on foreign workers and also increasing the number of local skilled workers and productivity.
However, the implementation of TVET may take some time to realize its goals, thus SBA urges the federal government to consider in allowing the contractors to hire foreign workers from nine selected contries to fill in the demandsupply gap. In addition, to also improve the hiring process by adopting on-line and electronic hiring system.
This effort will assist to solve the present temporary shortage of workers and to reduce the present high cost and lengthy process of hiring via agent which is limited to hiring foreign workers from two countries to work in Sabah only.
The nine source countries for workers are Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
SBA opines that the 2% reduction for personal income tax should also be extended to the corporate income tax to benefit the contractors, as profit earned from contract works are hard-earned money for most medium and small size contractors in Sabah.
As the development expenditure for 2018 is maintained at RM46 billion which is similar to that of 2017, SBA views that the allocation of RM2 billion for the Pan Borneo Highway project is barely sufficient for those work packages that had been allocated under Phase 1 to which some have been awarded and some are about to be awarded.
The assocuation hopes this will not in anyway disrupt the progress of the on-going Pan Borneo highway projects, particularly on the work schedules and payments to the contractors. Besides, SBA also hopes that subsequent phases of the project can be executed as per the plan.
SBA appreciates that the Goods and Service Tax (GST) is kept at 6% to which it will not further burden the contractors. In addition, it is also thankful for the GST relief for services to construct school buildings and places of worship, which are funded through public donation.
Nevertheless, SBA views that the government should also provide GST relief for affordable homes and abandoned housing projects, particularly as means to facilitate the projects and to keep the construction cost low.