Restrictive Policies May Impact Singapore’s Economy, Says Gov’t
SINGAPORE – The authorities said that if the city-state implements overly restrictive policies, foreign businesses here could relocate to other countries. In turn, this would lead to a downward spiral for Singapore’s economy, reported Reuters on Tuesday (14 September).
“If we are not careful, decades of hard work to build up our business hub will be wasted, our economy will contract and go down in a tailspin. We will end up with far worse problems and it is not the foreigners but Singaporeans who will ultimately pay the price,” stated Finance Minister Lawrence Wong during a parliamentary session on Tuesday.
He said this during legislative discussions on foreign labour, which has long been a controversial issue in Singapore, but has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led locals to worry about their job prospects as the financial hub recovers from the record recession in 2020.
Notably, the authorities have been tightening policies on foreign labour in the past few years, while introducing measures to encourage hiring of Singaporeans, such as by increasing the minimum income requirements for foreigners to be able to obtain work permits.
Wong stated that the government is studying how to improve the existing rules and will continue to make sure that the eligible income rates for expatriates keep pace with the wages of Singaporeans.
Based on the latest official data, less than 30 percent of the 5.7 million people in Singapore are non-residents compared to just 10 percent in 1990. However, the city-state’s total population last year dipped 0.3 percent as fewer foreigners relocated here amidst travel curbs, while some left due to retrenchments arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most expatriates in Singapore are low-paid manual labourers or domestic helpers, but it is those who hold higher-paid professional jobs that have been called out by opposition parties.