Parliamentary Reply by DPM Teo Chee Hean on NRs and PRs
TWELFTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
MONDAY, 9 JANUARY 2012
INCREASE IN NON-RESIDENTS AND PERMANENT RESIDENTS
Mrs Lina Chiam: To ask the Prime Minister why has the number of non-residents and permanent residents increased by 80,400 in 2011 (till June) compared to 59,100 in 2010 despite repeated assurances that the inflow of foreigners into Singapore will be curtailed.
Mr Teo Chee Hean (for the Prime Minister): Our total population was 5.18 million as at June 2011, an increase of 2.1% over June 20101. Within the same period, our Permanent Resident (PR) population shrank by 9,000. Since late 2009, we have moderated the inflow of PRs significantly, granting 29,265 PRs in 2010, as compared to 59,460 in 2009 and 79,167 in 2008. We will continue to manage the pace of immigration to ensure that immigrants are of good quality and able to integrate well into our society.
Our non-resident (NR) population grew by 6.9% between June 2010 and June 2011, mainly contributed by the growth in the number of foreigners working here on employment and work passes. This was due to the strong job creation in 2010 on the back of a sharp economic recovery, which saw GDP grow by an unprecedented 14.5%. The strong demand for workers could not be fully met from our resident workforce. About half2 of the jobs created were filled by residents. The Government has progressively strengthened measures to ensure that Singaporeans remain the core of our workforce, and foreigners who come to work here have skills that are valuable to Singapore. Measures include higher qualifying salaries for Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders, the tightening of the eligibility requirements for EP holders, and further changes to the foreign worker levy rates and tiers for S Pass and Work Permit holders. However, companies may go out of business or decide not to invest in Singapore if the labour market is too rigid. Singaporeans could lose their businesses or jobs as a result. This is why the Government is also helping companies, especially the SMEs, upgrade their productivity to reduce their reliance on foreign workers.
The Government remains committed to our goal of sustainable and inclusive economic growth for Singaporeans, and we will manage and moderate the flow of foreign workers so that Singapore can continue to develop and prosper.
1The total population size was 5.08 million as at June 2010.
2Our total employment grew by 115,900 in 2010, of which resident employment grew by 56,200 in 2010 over 2009.