Mapa appeals to govt to replace monopoly bodies

KUALA LUMPUR: Malayan Agricultural Producers Association (Mapa) appeals to the government to replace monopoly bodies such as Fomema Sdn Bhd with a more economically competitive system of medical examination, of which employers can directly pay their foreign workers’ doctors.

“From an economic standpoint, it would be more prudent to allow open competition of supply and demand to determine the rate of medical examination fees,” said Mapa president Tan Sri Mohd Noor Ismail.

“Furthermore, the monitoring of health matters concerning all workers should be vested directly with the Health Ministry and not by a consortium company,” he told Business Times after chairing Mapa's annual general meeting, here, yesterday.

Fomema was established in 1997 to manage and operate a mandatory foreign worker health screening system in Peninsular Malaysia. It does not conduct the medical checks but farms it out to private clinics and takes a cut on the charges.

By its own estimate, Fomema makes at least a RM45 million profit a year — a RM25 service charge and RM5 for issuing a computerised certificate for each of the 1.5 million legal migrant workers every year.

It was reported that Fomema has been using the same fee structure since its inception. It charges RM180 to arrange medical screening for every male worker and RM190 for every female worker. The additional RM10 is for a pregnancy test that all female workers must take.

Out of the RM180, RM60 is for the doctor’s consultation, RM65 for urine and blood tests and RM25 for X-ray. That works out to RM150 each.

Mohd Noor also noted that a new consortium firm, namely the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS), will place tremendous financial burden on farmers, rubber smallholders and oil palm planters. 

It is purportedly set up for the implementation of medical examination of workers in the source country and for the visa with reference, or VDR, online application.

“This kind of consortium company would not be established for free. Further financial burden is going to be imposed upon our members. We fear this move would further increase cost of agricultural production without any real improvement in productivity,” Mohd Noor said.

“As of todate, we’ve not been not informed by the government if FWCMS is a one-stop centre for matters concerning foreign labour affairs,” he added.