2nd February 2013,
National Solidarity Party
(NSP) on Friday urged government to cap the growth of Singapore’s
foreign workforce and focus instead on improving the fertility rate as a
solution to the city-state’s population woes.
Releasing its own population white paper, the opposition party criticised the government’s broad plan to allow Singapore’s current population of 5.3 million to rise to 6.9 million, of which nearly half would be foreigners, to ensure the country’s sustainable economic development.
a presentation of its paper Friday night, NSP Secretary General Hazel
Poa batted for a “pause” in the growth of the country’s foreign
workforce until productivity growth increases since “we are increasing
the number of people faster that we able to increase the value of goods
and services produced”.
“The increase (in population) is to likely to further depress our fertility rate, creating a vicious cycle,” said NSP.
also pointed out that the growth in foreign labour did not match the
growth in productivity thereby showing that it made little sense to
continually embrace the foreign workers. Plus, the influx of foreign
workers has depressed wages for lower-income Singaporeans, the party
Companies have to “offer better wages to attract workers or
they have to improve their productivity,” she asserted, adding that
infrastructure should also be built first to accommodate a larger number
of people before allowing the population expansion.
NSP Head of Policy Tony Tan questioned the wisdom of having a denser
population in Singapore as studies have shown that the regions with the
highest population densities – such as Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore –
also have the lowest fertility rates.
The party also took issue
with the argument that the declining number of working citizens to the
support the elderly called for the entry of more people into the country
“If at some point of time we are unable to improve our
fertility rate, what we could very well do at that stage, we could
always bring in more foreign workers to augment us” said Tan, “but what
government is saying, we bring in the citizens now.”
that if Singapore welcomed foreign workers now, it “is going to
exacerbate our old age support ratio” in 2030 when these workers
themselves become part of the retired old age group.
getting the foreign population to compensate Singapore’s dwindling
workforce, promote more policies that would encourage families to have
more children that would be part of future manpower, the NSP argued.
order to encourage Singaporeans to have bigger families, NSP member
Bryan Long suggested tackling the high cost of bringing up more children
by such measures as providing free upgrades to a larger HDB flats for
those who have more children and removing resale levy for parents to
move closer to their working children.
Also, give families with
more children priority for school, such as for Primary one school
registration and free tertiary education for the third child onwards.
Noting that the government’s baby bonus scheme has
not stopped the slide in Singapore’s total fertility rate, Long
suggested incentives like free delivery and hospitalisation for the
third and subsequent child.
NSP also proposed that the quota of
foreign workers on S Passes and E Passes be limited to 33 per cent.
Currently, there is a quota of 20 per cent imposed on S pass holders-
those earning between $2000 to $3000 a month- but no quota for E pass
holders, or those who earn at least $3000 a month. Making the quota the
same would minimise fraudulent declaration of higher salaries in attempt
to evade quotas, the party said
The population white paper will be debated in Parliament next week.
article from Yahoo News