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In Response To Citizen Nades Column When Incentives Go Wrong

Dear Editor,

We refer to Citizen Nades’ column “When incentives go wrong” (The Sun, 23 October 2013).

We will certainly look into some of the issues raised in the article, such as any potential misuse of the incentives and to ensure that those benefitting from the Returning Expert Programme (REP) are truly aligned to the critical skill requirements of the country.

We would also like to clarify some potential misperceptions on the REP as highlighted in the article.

Contrary to the assertion that “chances are high that you will get approval as TalentCorp needs to fulfil its KPI”, we wish to assure that an application will only be approved if it meets the REP criteria. Whilst we may have a KPI for REP, TalentCorp as a Government body is cognisant of its responsibility in managing this tax incentive and would not sacrifice quality for quantity.

Further, all applications for REP are tabled for approval to a committee with representatives from various agencies including the Ministry of Finance, MIDA and also the Malaysian Employers Federation to safeguard the integrity of the approval process.

Under the REP criteria, it is not possible for “an accountant with just a year’s experience” to be approved. The gazette stipulates that applicants would need to have been working overseas for at least the last 3 years continuously and those with a degree would need at least 6 years cumulative experience overseas and with relevant critical skillsets and experience.

In line with the growth of Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) sectors, those approved under REP are senior management or technical experts in sectors such as Oil & Gas, Finance, Accounting, Specialist Doctors and Engineering. The majority of those approved are in their late 30s and 40s. Examples of those returned include the likes of Zainal Abidin Jalil, CEO of Malakoff; Rhoda Yap, CEO of British India; and Iain Lo, Chairman of Shell Malaysia;

We would also like to clarify that since TalentCorp assumed the management of the REP programme in 2011, the incentives for tax free cars has been limited to locally assembled cars only. Prior to this, the incentive allowed for imported tax free cars. Therefore, those returning through TalentCorp certainly do not benefit from tax free Rolls Royce or Audis.

Notwithstanding the above, we do value the feedback shared in the article which will help us to improve the efficacy of the REP to best meet the talent needs of the ETP. As an example, previously REP applications were made only by the returning individuals. In 2013, we are increasingly facilitating applications from employers, ensuring those identified to return do meet the critical talent needs of leading Malaysian corporations.

For more information on our initiatives, please visit www.talentcorp.com.my or follow us on twitter @TalentCorpMsia.

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