Singaporean employers who rely on Malaysian workers are uneasy over their government’s increase in levy for Malaysian cars, as well as another planned increase to match Malaysia’s move to slap a sharp toll rate hike on cars entering Johor.
Bloomberg spoke to some who feel the tit-for-tat increase, which saw Malaysia following up Singapore’s levy increase with a whopping RM7 increase for cars entering from Singapore, will also affect businesses which employ Malaysians.
The spat continues with Singapore now saying it will again match Malaysia’s increase, and Malaysia mulling a new levy system on Singaporean-registered vehicles entering Johor.
“That’s going to increase the cost to my Malaysian workers. We’re going to increase the salaries,” Paul Lim, CEO of Singaporean security firm Soverus Pte which employs some 100 Malaysians, told Bloomberg.
This, he said, was due to public transport which ferries Malaysians being forced to transfer the hike to passengers.
An economist who once worked with Singapore’s trade ministry also hit out at the move, saying the republic had no need for such additional income.
“We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot by matching Malaysia’s policy move,” said Irvin Seah, who is now attached with DBS, as quoted by Bloomberg.
“We don’t need the additional revenue. It will have an impact on the economy,” especially on small and medium-sized enterprises, he said.
Bloomberg said the counter toll offensives showed “a bump in relations” betwen Malaysia and Singapore despite recent improvements brought about by solution of a long-drawn dispute over railway land.
It also quoted an economist at Barclays Plc as saying that some 15 million Malaysians travel to Singapore annually to work, with 13,000 foreign-registered cars and and 8,000 goods vehicles entering the city state daily.
Bloomberg estimated that with the series of increases and new charges, going to Singapore in a Malaysian car would cost S$47.90 for a round trip.
On August 1, as the Malaysian toll hike came into effect, buses transporting Malaysian workers from Johor Baru refused to continue their journey into Singapore, forcing scores to cross the border by foot.
Companies like Soverus Pte, the Singapore security firm, now have to deal with the higher costs, among them a S$20 salary hike.
It now also plans a “share-a-bike” programme for employees, said its boss Lim in the Bloomberg report, following the August 1 mess at the border.
“After that day when I had probably 20 workers taking a very healthy walk across the Causeway and I’ve got clients screaming away, being very frustrated that their security workers don’t get there on time, I thought this is a good timing to try to get this going,” he told Bloomberg. – August 11, 2014.
Causeway "war" takes toll on Singapore employers