KUALA LUMPUR: The National Economic Action Council (MTEN) will meet next month to discuss a mechanism to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country, the Dewan Rakyat was told.

Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said the 13th Malaysia Plan (RMK13), to be tabled next year, is also targeting a more drastic reduction in the number of foreign workers and expressed the need for the industry and economy sector to prepare for the situation.

“This (reduction of foreign workers) requires not only policy changes but also cooperation from industries because when the previous government wanted to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country, there were objections.

“If we continue to have these three million to 3.5 million foreign workers, whether they have documents or not, it will create a group that offers a lower cost structure.

“This situation will cause our local traders to not be able to compete because they (foreigners) will put prices that are much lower, resulting in the society to be more interested in getting products or services from them,“ he said during the question and answer session today.

Rafizi said this in response to a supplementary question by Datuk Mohd Shahar Abdullah (BN-Paya Besar)on the competition between local and foreign entrepreneurs, especially from Bangladesh, who are seen to be dominating the semi-skilled sector in the country.

He said it is the attitude of the locals themselves in leasing out their licenses to foreign workers to get easy money, of RM3,000 to RM4,000, is also one of the reasons why foreigners dominate the sector.

“At the policy level, the government will introduce the Anti-Ali Baba Act... for the time being there is no specific law that allows legal action to be imposed on the locals for doing so.

“There is also a need for the economic structure to be rectified by reducing the number of foreign workers, we also need to tighten the law so that it is an offence to allow foreign workers to run businesses or enterprises using the names of local residents,“ he said.