Bandar Seri Begawan - The Ministry of Home Affairs is formulating an ideal solution to tackle the Ali Baba business phenomenon in the Sultanate, which involves the renting of business licences or shops owned by locals to foreigners.
YB Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awang Othman, the Minister of Home Affairs explained during the 9th Legislative Council meeting yesterday that inputs have been received from members of the public who highlighted how incomes derived from the Ali Baba businesses are part of their remuneration for obtaining licences, hiring foreign workers and acquiring approval to utilise their homes or land for business purposes.
"The local businessmen have queried as to whether the Ministry of Home Affairs would like to stop or restrict such businesses, which would jeopardise the locals. However, the question is whether imposing such restrictions would be perfect or otherwise. The ministry will not stop hiring foreign workers nonetheless.
"Since the previous Legislative Council meeting, the ministry has been formulating viable solutions to resolve the situation. A study was made particularly on the licences issued to Ali Baba businesses to seek such better resolutions to handle this matter," the minister said in response to a query by YB Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah bin Hj Sulaiman.
Profits derived from these Ali Baba businesses are remitted overseas, thus bringing about losses to our country. As the main agency responsible for issuing such a licence, YB Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah questioned the ministry on actions taken to curb the predicament whilst emphasising on the need to outline policies, regulations, plan of actions and enforcement.
The Minister of Home Affairs also responded to YB Datin Paduka Dyg Salbiah's query on the issue of houses rented to foreigners, which is sometimes overcrowded and whether any plans will be implemented to regulate individual houses and ways it will be enforced. The minister explained that there is no control on this issue as owners are free to rent out their houses to foreign workers.
However, the minister reiterated that under the Labour Act, employers are obliged to provide accommodation for their workers. In some cases, companies were incapable of providing shelter for their employees, thus forcing them to find a place on their own or employers finding individual houses to accommodate them.
"It was found that some houses are unsuitable. In one instance, more than 20 workers lived in the same house that could only accommodate fewer than 10 occupants. Action has been taken on the employer for such an act," the minister said.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin