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Clarification On Revision To The Returning Expert Programme (REP)

Dear Editor

I refer to the article “TalentCorp’s unwise move” published in Focus Malaysia on 5 April 2014. Further to the announcement by Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, on Wednesday 27 March 2014 regarding revisions to the Returning Expert Programme (REP), I wish to clarify that the REP’s primary objective is to provide the right quality of talent needed for the economic transformation (not to pursue numbers for the sake of quantity).

The REP eligibility criteria were revised to better align to the needs of the economy, while ensuring transparency and accountability in the dispensation of a tax incentive by the Government to top Malaysian talent.

The previous criteria were anchored on the highest qualifications achieved and tenure of work experience abroad. The latter was effectively used as a proxy for both propensity / resistance to return as well as level of expertise / ability to contribute.

Based on feedback from employers and analysing the profile of returning Malaysians, we have determined that quality of talent cannot be measured on just years abroad. As such, the REP eligibility criteria were revised to create a more holistic set of criteria which take into account total work experience, income level and having critical skills highly in demand.

Whilst the bar is increased in terms of experience abroad and income earned, the revised set of criteria also recognise work experience in Malaysia. This is particularly relevant to priority sectors such as Oil & Gas, where the profile of a Malaysian abroad is typically one who has worked significantly in Malaysia before going abroad.

Meanwhile, the tax incentives for car have been brought down from two to one car and up to RM150,000 worth of tax exemption (previously unlimited in value). We believe these changes are sufficient to facilitate returning Malaysians. The CBU flexibility was introduced to enable returning Malaysians to bring back the car they currently own from abroad.

Reducing the incentive to one car is also in line with our aim to increasingly target high value added Malaysian professionals, whereby the key facilitation is focused more on the transitional income tax rate.

Overall, the changes announced are consistent with enhancing the quality of talent targeted by REP, towards those best placed to contribute to Malaysia’s transformation. Despite ‘raising the bar’ on the REP eligibility criteria, we remain confident that the REP will continue to help facilitate the return of more Malaysians with experience and expertise to take up the growing number of great professional opportunities in Malaysia.

Mariena Malek
Head, Communications
Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad

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