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SBF’s Response to the Tightening of Work Pass Requirements

Thursday, 27 August 2020 [Singapore] – In response to the press release issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on ‘Tightening of Work Pass Requirements’ dated 27 August 2020, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) noted that the announced measures, coming on top of the increases in minimum qualifying salaries implemented just earlier this year, will likely lead to increased business costs.

While the measures will give greater push to some companies to localise jobs, those in sectors facing shortages of suitable local workers may have to pay higher salaries to the foreign workers that they need to retain. In addition, businesses will need time to adjust and localise jobs, including training and upskilling Singaporeans.

SBF welcomes MOM’s affirmation that Singapore will remain an open and connected hub for international businesses and that MOM values the contributions of our foreign workforce as they complement the local workforce in keeping Singapore an attractive host to investors from around the world.

As a small country with an open economy that is highly dependent on global trade and investments, Singapore continues to need foreign manpower to augment and complement our local workforce in order to sustain our economy. The presence of foreign companies and foreign manpower in Singapore has directly contributed to and continues to contribute to the creation of good jobs and better opportunities for Singaporeans.

It is important for businesses to extend fair treatment and due consideration to Singaporeans, and SBF calls on all businesses to do so. At the same time, it is vital for Singapore to remain open and connected to the world, and continue to remain open to global talent who brings value to Singapore and Singaporeans. An overly restrictive policy on foreign manpower will impact trade and investments, which will in turn dampen growth of the economy and job opportunities for Singaporeans.

Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, said “In the immediate term, this move may raise business costs. We would thus expect more employers to increase their efforts to look for locals and strengthen the Singaporean core, and we do hope for this outcome. We also noted that there is a gap of wage and skills expectations that need to be bridged between employers and mid-career local PMETs. Businesses can build up the local talent pool through training and upskilling, while retaining foreign manpower to complement these locals. Companies can tap the various assistance programmes offered by our Government, unions and trade associations. SBF remains committed to work closely with our tripartite partners to help businesses and workers overcome these challenges to emerge stronger.”

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