: The government will allow employers to hire foreign domestic helpers directly from nine selected countries without going through an agent.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said employers could also apply for foreign domestic helpers' visa via online from the Immigration Department of Malaysia at the current levy and processing fees.
"The government is aware of the high cost incurred by households in hiring foreign domestic helpers, which could reach as high as RM12,000 to RM18,000," he said when tabling Budget 2018 at Dewan Rakyat here today. READ: #Budget 2018 Highlights
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the government would review the cost of hiring foreign domestic helpers, with a view of reducing it in future.
Meanwhile, the government also announced 2018 as 'Women Empowerment Year', to be accompanied with a number of initiatives.
One is to ensure participation of at least 30 per cent of women as board of directors in government-linked companies (GLCs) and government-linked investment companies (GLICs) as well as statutory bodies by end-2018 .
"Secondly, proposed increase from 60 days to 90 days maternity leave for the private sector as implemented by the public sector," he said.
The Prime Minister said RM20 million would be allocated for women's training and entrepreneurship programmes such as the PEAK Entrepreneur Programme under MyWin Academy.
"To encourage women to return to the workforce, the government proposes that their earnings on maximum of 12 months consecutive salary be given personal income tax exemption.
"The incentive is available for women who return to the workforce between the year of assessment 2018 to 2020," said Najib.
The prime minister also announced an allocation of RM1.7 billion for the welfare of senior citizens, differently-abled persons (OKU) and children.
He said the allowance for senior citizens would be increased by RM50 to RM350 per month, benefiting almost 144,000 recipients involving RM603 million.
The allowance for working and unemployed OKU as well as caretakers of OKU would also be increased by RM50 per month, benefiting 163,000 recipients involving an allocation of RM100 million.
Meanwhile, employers who hire individuals who had suffered critical illnesses or accidents but have been certified fit to work by the Social Security Organsiation (Perkeso)'s Medical Board would be eligible for additional tax deductions.
The local authorities have also made it mandatory for all office buildings to provide child care centres beginning in Kuala Lumpur. -- Bernama Visit Astro AWANI's Budget 2018 microsite for more details.