Labour Department plans online processing system for licences

National 2 minutes, 21 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Department of Labour is planning an online processing system for foreign labour licences, said the acting Labour commissioner yesterday.

Hj Rani Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Awang Mohd Yusof, Acting Commissioner of Labour for the Department of Labour, Ministry of Home Affairs, said that this “labour control system” was part of the plan to improve services at the department.

It will be implemented by the end of the year at the earliest, Hj Rani said, noting that the department hopes to bring all applications online. The department handles work permits of foreign workers as well as licences for businesses to get a quota of foreign workers.

“With the online system, we hope to improve our client charter, by making it faster to process applications,” he said. The department will be providing a kiosk for licence applicants without computer access, he added.

It takes about 10 days for a work permit to be processed and 21 days for a business lisence. The target is to halve these numbers, Hj Rani said.

The online system would help eliminate instances of forgery of certain documents by making it easier to check them when necessary, he added.

The department’s target for the rollout is by the end of the year or at the start of the next year. It will be done in phases, he said.

Meanwhile, Hj Rani said that the freeze in work permits for foreign employment in low and unskilled work positions remains.

However, to meet increased labour demand for the large number of projects under the government and the Brunei Economic Development Board, the department has been issuing temporary special passes for the duration of the project, he said.

Approximately 6,000 such passes have been issued, he said. These passes, he stressed, are temporary, and once a project is completed, those who have been issued such passes are required to return to their home country.

“What we do not want are ‘freelancers’, who come to the country and end up not having any work,” he said, pointing out that it could negatively impact the safety and security of Brunei.

Hj Rani said he believed that the local workforce can meet demand for other low and unskilled employment.

However, he said appropriate training and encouragement are needed to get locals to go for these jobs.

He said that if the job positions truly cannot be filled by the local workforce, then they will look into providing work permits for expat workers.

Last year, the department processed more than 6,000 applications for licences for companies to employ foreign workers.

There were 285 new licences, 1,253 additional licences and 4,803 renewals, according to statistics provided by the department. Additional licences are for companies that wish to increase their quota for workers.

In 2012, the department processed 336 new licences, 1,122 additional licences and 4,809 renewals.

The Brunei Times