Singapore’s government will adjust its foreign worker’s policy to address residents’ concerns about competition for jobs, although the global mall is open to foreign talent, the prime minister said on Sunday.
“We need to adjust our policies to manage the quality, number, and concentration of foreigners in Singapore,” said Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day message. “If we do it right, we can continue to receive foreign workers and new immigrants as we should.
Foreign employment has been an issue in Singapore, but uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more jobs among residents as the city-state recovers from its record recession.
The issue was also highlighted by opposition parties during last year’s election campaign when they faced a historic challenge to Lee’s People’s Action Party, which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965.
Nearly 30% of Singapore’s 5.7 million residents are non-residents, up from about 10% in 1990, according to government statistics.
Lee warned that turning inward would undermine Singapore’s position as a global and regional hub. “It would cost us jobs and opportunities.”
His government has tightened policies for foreign workers for several years as it takes steps to promote local appointments, including raising the wage ceiling on the issuance of work permits.