Minister of Home Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong. – BAHYIAH BAKIR
BY Hakim Hayat
A TOTAL of 1,715 jobs that were intended for import labour were successfully given to qualified locals in 2018 under the Labour Department’s updated recruitment regulations on foreign labour, said Minister of Home Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong on Wednesday, during the ongoing 15th Legislative Council (LegCo) session.
In 2017, the former ‘foreign quota’ for recruiting foreigners was replaced with the Foreign Worker’s Licence (LPA) in the effort to streamline and reduce the processing time. The initiative also mandates the JobCentre Brunei to verify and assess the applications, to ensure that qualified locals can be recommended in the jobs that were intended for foreigners.
Meanwhile, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar said that his ministry is also contemplating the introduction of the Responsible Foreign Worker Displacement Ratio for selected industries with excess of foreign workers, to ensure a more balanced ratio between local and imported labour.
The Minister of Home Affairs was responding to a query by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Putera Maharaja Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Ghani bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Dewa Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Rahim, regarding the influx of imported labour in the country at a time when more graduates are being generated and qualified to fill jobs with increasing rate of local unemployment.
“This issue must be given serious attention. With the reduction of foreign workers, the issue of unemployment here can be handled. I don’t believe that our locals don’t want to work in these jobs now… This must change, and I hope that foreign labour regulations and enforcement will be toughened to stamp out this issue,” he said.
The Minister of Home Affairs responded that with the introduction of the LPA, the Labour Department and JobCentre Brunei are working closely together to assess the need of importing foreign labour for companies, and have also made rejections for the licences, without giving any specific numbers.
“Some of the work scopes can be filled by locals, and have matching skills with the applicants registered with the JobCentre Brunei,” he said.
Sharing more details on the Responsible Foreign Worker Displacement Ratio that they are planning to introduce, the minister said that it will focus on three sectors that has a higher ratio of foreign labour compared to local labour – construction, education, and retail and wholesale. He said that a target rate will be set for the ratios so private sector jobs can be filled by local jobseekers.
The latest labour census data in 2017 revealed that in the construction sector alone, there is an estimated ratio of 80:20 per cent of foreign to local labour, with over 22,000 foreign workers in the sector.
The minister also disclosed that over 11,500 foreigners are currently employed in the retail and wholesale sector.
With this initiative currently being evaluated jointly with the Manpower Policy and Planning Unit (MPPU) at the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI), the minister said that he hopes to see it being implemented after further discussions with stakeholders in the relevant sectors, to help reduce the import of foreign labour into the country.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin