The government will ensure that the import of labour from Bangladesh will not affect job opportunities for locals, the Home Ministry said today.

The ministry also said that labour market equilibrium would not be affected by the move, as they would only be allowed to work in five formal sectors, namely construction, manufacturing, farming, agriculture, and services.

"The proposal to bring in 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh was made after taking into consideration the development of the national economy and the needs of the respective industries to fill positions that are not popular with locals.

"However, the government will also be cautious in this matter, so that job opportunities for locals are not affected, and always remain protected" the ministry said in a written reply to a question from Sim Tze Tzin (PKR-Bayan Baru), which was circulated in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Sim wanted to know the rationale behind the government's proposal to allow 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh to work in the country.

Replying to a question from Datuk Mohd Idris Jusi (PKR-Batu Pahat) who wanted to know if the move would lead to social problems, the ministry said the government was aware of this challenging issue.

However, it added that it was necessary to fill positions that were not popular with the local people, mainly those which were considered dirty, dangerous, and difficult, to help the government improve the sustainability of the national economy.

Therefore, the ministry said among the measures taken to minimise the problems were to limit these workers to the five sectors mentioned above, recruiting foreign labor based on the real needs of industry, and imposing health screenings for the first three years.

Apart from that, the group of workers would only be allowed to enter Malaysia via Visas With Reference, and their biometrics would be recorded in the National Enforcement Registration System.

The government would also ensure that all migrant workers were issued Temporary Employment Visit Passes that had to be renewed annually, so that they could be continously monitored.

The ministry said it would also continue to track down, arrest, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants who were still in the country.

"Stern action will also be imposed on employers found in violation of the Immigration Act 1959/63 and Immigration Regulations 1963, such as employing and harbouring illegal immigrants," he said.

To ensure the continuous improvement in the management of foreign workers, the ministry said it would implement the concept of 'strict liability', which required employers to be fully responsible for foreign labour employed, from the application stage, to the time the workers were sent back.

The Home Ministry said it would also work closely with the Ministry of Human Resources and all other regulatory and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the foreign labour market remained under control and did not have any implications against the country's safety and public order.