KUALA LUMPUR: The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry (MPIC) wants to embark on direct government to government (G2G) cooperation with foreign countries to address the issue of labour shortage and ensure supply sustainability in the future.

Its minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said MPIC has proposed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and cabinet to tackle the matter as the country's foreign labour supply to the furniture industry was severely lacking.
"I have asked for MPIC to be allowed to have direct G2G arrangements with the government of sourcing countries so we know what is our projection needs for labour supply, in which area and we need to be transparent in terms of their pay, living conditions and perks.
"These are the things we are going to do so we can be assured of a sustainable labour supply for us to support the industry. We are looking at Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Myanmar.
"The G2G effort will ensure the workers' protection as we do not want any elements of manipulation and abuse. We need a sustainable supply of these workers as MPIC brings money to the country.
"If we do not plan, other countries will eat up our share and there goes our income," she said today at the launch of Malaysian Timber Council's (MTC) Timb3r (correct) 2.0 Design Incubator Programme and Hackathon, here.
Organised by MTC, the Malaysian Furniture Council and the Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers, the programme inspires to help move the timber industry from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to either an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) or an Original Brand Manufacturer (OBM).
It saw a gathering of local timber and furniture manufacturers with designers and architects for the development of Malaysian made high value branded products with design concepts.
Zuraida attributed the inadequacy of foreign labour to the unsatisfactory reports she had received from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) on the furniture industry's poor worker management and unconducive living conditions.
Miti, she said, had inspected workers living conditions and was unhappy with what they saw.
"That is why Miti is not approving the applications for foreign workers but we are in dire need of labour supply for the furniture industry.
"We need to ensure our economic activities are not halted (due to this) so as a short term measure, I have asked furniture companies in need of foreign workers to write to me and I will send my officers to conduct inspections and make recommendations to Miti," she added.
Meanwhile, Zuraida said MPIC is aiming to double wooden furniture exports in 2022 from this year's RM12.5 billion.
With the United States being Malaysia's biggest market for such products, Zuraida said they will set their eyes on venturing into Central Asia, China, India, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand next year.

Sumber: New Straits Times