Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MEF, MTUC Support Creche Idea

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 (Bernama) -- In principle, employers are supportive of the government's proposal to set up creches and nurseries, provided a suitable and reliable system be put in place, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said Wednesday.

Executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said the system should be operated by the government with fully-equipped creches run by qualified and well-trained local teachers and minders.

The system should also ensure affordable fees and provide employers proper incentives to encourage them to subsidies the employees.

He was commenting on the government's call to employers to provide subsidised creches for their employees' children.

Shamsuddin told Bernama that a well-run system would encourage more women to enter the labour market, thus helping to reduce dependency on foreigners.

He said it was not practical for individual employers to set up creches and nurseries as it would be too expensive and not economical.

According to him, local women currently comprised only 46.7 per cent or approximately three million of the total workforce.

"With a proper system, this could be increased to 60 per cent or 4.2 million women workers in the country's labour force," he said.

Currently, there are more than 300,000 foreign maids in the country.

Shamsuddin said fees for creches should be capped at RM150 per month and employers should be given double tax deductions.

What this means is that if employers provide a RM300 subsidy, they should be given RM600 in tax deductions.

If the government was serious about the proposal, it could include the double tax deduction in the forthcoming budget next month so that planning for setting up of creche and nurseries could begin by early next year, he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said it was always supportive of the proposal and suggested that to kick-start the programme, such nurseries be set up within existing schools.

"What could be done is to allocate a special area within the school compound to set up these nurseries," said its general secretary, G. Rajasegaran, adding that unemployed graduates could be roped in and trained to be teachers. -- BERNAMA

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