Singapore: Singapore, that is dependent on workers from other Asian countries, has tightened the entry criteria for granting work visas to foreigners to raise the standards and quality of workforce being brought in.
Minister of State for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin told the Parliament that the government has not tightened the quotas on foreign workers but has instead tightened the entry criteria for various work passes.
Tan said the government would periodically review the need for further adjustments on work passes while providing time for Singapore-based companies to adjust their labour requirements.
Singapore relies on a sizeable foreign workforce in various sectors and also has a substantial population of Indians.
The minister was responding in Parliament to a question raised on the issue of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) facing shortage of workers.
He assured the house that the SMEs facing shortage of workers following the new criteria would be given enough time to make adjustments on their labour requirements.
"This is important, at the same time ensuring the SMEs continue to thrive because they provide jobs for many Singaporeans," Tan said.
"We recognise the difficulties many SMEs face in recruiting Singaporeans. The government has introduced specific initiatives to help SMEs re-engineer their operations and reduce their reliance on labour," he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that immigration policy was also being tightened relating to foreigners' applications for permanent resident status in
The immigration policy was tightened sharply from 2009 as part of a move to address Singaporeans' anxiety over competition for jobs from foreigners, crowding of the transportation network and social places, and the changing character of Singapore society.
Teo disclosed that 127,066 applications by foreigners' to be permanent residents in Singapore were rejected in 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority rejected 58,923 applications, more than double of the 22,472 rejected in 2008, and in 2010, 68,143 were rejected, he said.
Singaporeans have expressed concern about increasing competition for jobs from foreigners, especially Asians including Indians, the rising costs of housing and congestion on the local transportation network.