Singapore needs more foreign workforce: Govt

Origin

Singapore, which has a sizable number of people of Indian origin, should take in 30,000 foreigners as new permanent residents every year to beat the falling fertility rate and ensure that its economy remains competitive, the government said today.

A White Paper on Population has proposed that Singapore should take in 15,000-20,000 new citizens each year from the PR pool of about 500,000-600,000 that would have to maintained by 2030 to stop the population from shrinking.

About 30,000 new Permanent Residents (PR) is needed to keep the PR population stable at 500,000 to 600,000.

Over 900,000 Singaporeans, more than a quarter of citizens, would retire from the workforce between now and 2030, according to the paper. "Many Asian cities are modernising rapidly, and catching up on us," the government said.

By 2050, there would be more people above the age of 50 than younger Singaporeans. Replacing them would be challenging because of the falling fertility rate in the city state.

The paper pointed out that Singapore's total fertility rate (TFR) has fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 in the past 30 years.

Last year, the TFR was about 1.3, according to preliminary figures. Singapore's citizen population size would start to decline by 2025, according to the paper. The shrinking population would also have an impact on the city state's economic growth.

Singapore's Gross Domestic Product growth beyond 2020 would likely fall to between 2 and 3 per cent a year, from the current 3 to 5 per cent projection for this decade.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "This White Paper is the first time the government has set out a comprehensive population roadmap to strike the best balance in our population policies."

At the heart of the White Paper's strategy lies 3 principles: maintain a strong Singaporean core, create good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans, and have a high quality living environment, reported the Channel News Asia.

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