‘Hungry’ contractors urge govt to speed up job tenders

PETALING JAYA: Growth of the construction industry is currently at a worrying state given the lack of jobs in hand to ensure its continuity, affecting its contribution to the economy.

The Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) has appealed to the government to speed up contract awards, especially for big projects such as the second phases of the Pan Borneo Sabah and East Coast Rail Link.

MBAM president Foo Chek Lee said contractors had been eagerly waiting for jobs for these projects.

He said many contractors had expressed concern and “hunger” for new jobs as most existing projects would be completed by the year-end or in mid-2020.

He said even if the government is facing some financial issues at the moment, small projects could be awarded and their implementation extended to a longer period.

“This, at least, will enable small contractors to keep going. The industry will stall if they are jobless,” he told a press conference after officiating the MBAM Affiliate Dialogue 2019 here today.

Foo said the sustainability concern was raised mostly by small and medium enterprises as the “big boys” could avoid this problem by securing overseas projects.

The association also appealed to the government to simplify the process of approval to bring in foreign workers as the current process, involving 26 procedures compared to only one in Singapore, was very time-consuming.

This creates a hurdle for the contractors to meet the project deadlines, while facing a worker shortage, Foo said.

He said a number of the applications for workers were rejected due to minor errors, such as typos and auditing hiccups that could easily be rectified.

On the minimum standard of accommodation for workers, Foo said MBAM’s members were willing to cooperate with the government and ready to implement the rules if they were regulated.

He said the budget would be calculated under the preliminary cost, which in turn might have an impact on end-products.

This, however, could be reduced with government help in terms of land subsidy, as well as a lower percentage of compliance cost and tax, he added.