Labour shortage worries developers

KUCHING: The Malaysian Developers Council (MDC) is concerned over the current labour shortage faced by the construction and property development industry in the country as more projects under the various government initiatives gain traction.

The issue of labour shortage was raised during the 17th MDC meeting on March 8 in Santubong, Sarawak. The meeting attended by the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda), the Sabah Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Shareda) and the Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda), was hosted by Sheda.

The numerous infrastructure and building projects under the Economic Transformation Programme and the National Key Economic Areas have tremendously increased demand for labour but the supply and skill levels have not grown in tandem, said the council in a joint communiqué issued on March 20.

“The MDC therefore urges the government to review, at least in the short term, its foreign labour policy on the entry of skilled and semi-skilled labour from countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and China that have the necessary pool of resources to quickly overcome the problem,” the council said.

The issue, it added, should urgently be addressed lest the delivery of critical projects such as the mass rapid transit, light rail transit extension, projects within the five growth corridors, the high-speed rail and housing be in jeopardy particularly if labour cost escalates tremendously.

The MDC statement was issued by Rehda president Datuk Seri Michael Yam, Shareda president Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen and Sheda president Zaidi Ahmad.

On the issue of affordable housing, the council welcomed the launch of PR1MA (1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme) as it believes property developers should respond to market needs and assist the government in meeting the rising demand for properties in this segment among the middle-income group,Nevertheless, it reiterates its stand that private developers should be left to focus on market-driven products.

“Then the government can collect more federal taxes from developers and take on the responsibility to provide more low-cost housing, social housing and better amenities for the deserving ones,” the MDC said.

Also, in light of the recent hostilities in Lahad Datu, Sabah, MDC donated RM30,000 to the appropriate welfare funds.  

The MDC was established in 1996 to provide a forum for consultation and to foster closer relationship among the three associations. The council meets half-yearly to dialogue on industry current issues and jointly address problems. MDC has 1,420 corporate members.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 22, 2013.

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