Employment agencies demand relief from Malaysia visa fee hike

The Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation is attempting to clamp down on the sole visa-provider for workers headed to Malaysia.

Last month, the federation requested the government wrest back control of the visa process for workers and put an end to alleged price gouging at the one-stop service centre (OSC).

The centre, operated by service provider Diamond Palace, gained a functional monopoly in January when the embassy transferred authority of visa approval. Application prices subsequently soared from US$6 to $57. The new price now includes the $6 visa fee plus a $26 system fee and a $25 service fee, according to the OSC website.

MOEAF’s letter asked Myanmar’s foreign ministry to meet with its Malaysian counterpart to discuss the policy, according to U Kyaw Htin Kyaw, MOEAF spokesperson.

Parliament confirmed receipt of the letter on July 20 but has yet to discuss the issue.

“The $57 fee has not yet been reduced but there are still workers who are paying and of course we cannot restrict them,” he said.

The number of workers going to Malaysia has dropped 40 to 50 percent since the fee increase went to effect, said Royal Gate employment agency owner U Zaw Myo Myint.

Previously, employment agencies sent an average of 5000 workers per month to Malaysia, but that number has dropped to around 3000 now, said U Myo Win Yin, an official responsible for migrant affairs at MOEAF.

But Daw Khin Nway Oo, a senior official from the labour and immigration ministry, said that so far there have been no changes at OSC as a result of the letter.

Although the foreign ministry has not confirmed receipt of MOEAF’s letter, spokesperson Daw Aye Aye Swe told The Myanmar Times that if they receive the letter, they will send it to the Malaysian embassy. If they receive a reply from the embassy, they will pass that letter back to the federation. Their role is simply to act as a courier between the two organisations, she said.

Although The Myanmar Times contacted the OSC, and personally went to the OSC office, the officials denied to provide a comment. Similarly, The Myanmar Times contacted the Malaysian embassy but they did not return request for comment either.

Shortly after the one-stop centre was announced, the MOEAF announced a moratorium on sending workers to Malaysia until the fee increase was reduced, or borne by the Malaysian officials. A temporary reduction was negotiated for 8000 workers who had already applied for the overseas jobs. An estimated 1 million Myanmar migrants work in Malaysia, many of them undocumented and vulnerable to trafficking and forced labour.

 

Source: The Myanmar Times

 

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