When Lim Swee Say mentioned having a 2/3 Singaporean core in the labour force in future, we should know that this is a half truth. This is because our organic population growth does not permit a 2/3 Singaporean core without increasing the intake of new citizens. When something sounds too good to be true from the PAP, it is.
Ballpark figures – 40,000 Singaporeans enter the workforce annually less 25,000 Singaporean deaths and retirement leaves us with a net increase of 15,000 Singaporeans. If Singaporeans form 2/3 of the workforce, the number of foreign workers (less construction and FDWs) would have to be reduced to a maximum of 10,000.
However, PAP’s track record shows it has been importing an average of 31,000 foreign workers annually from 2010 to 2014.
Pro-business PAP can’t reduce the intake of cheaper foreign workers for obvious reasons and increase productivity growth from zero overnight. In order to maintain a 2/3 Singaporean core, PAP will therefore need to increase new citizens, likely to 25,000 per year.
If PAP had not increased new citizens by about 78,000 from 2010 to 2014, organic population growth of 9,000 per year would have allowed an intake of only 6,000 foreign workers to maintain a 2/3 Singaporean core, not 31,000.
From the above, it is obvious PAP has been creating more jobs for foreigners by granting them citizenship.
Singaporeans should sit up and take note because their livelihoods will be adversely affected. Let’s take a look at the present situation to understand whether a ‘2/3 Singaporean core’ is achievable.
Current figures are already less than 50% and it would take a miracle to have a 2/3 Singaporean core:
Facts on 2014 labour force:
Percentage: 62 %
Since PRs are not Singaporeans, 2/3 of the 527,000 PRs should be excluded. The percentage of Singaporean is actually only 52% of the workforce. (slightly more than 10,000 PRs leave Singapore permanently every year)
The PAP is disingenuous in its computation of foreign worker quota by classifying PRs as ‘locals’. In the service sector, a company is allowed to employ 80 foreigners for every ‘100 locals’. There appears to be lax enforcement as evident by up to 90% of foreigners working in Chinese restaurants such as Din Tai Fung, a restaurant with the best toothpicks according to the MOM minister. Do these restaurants have a higher proportion of local employees?
It is an open secret – there are thousands of ‘phantom’ workers which allow businesses to employ multiple times the number of foreign workers. In a Parliamentary reply, Minister Lim revealed that 90 employers were found to have paid CPF contributions to phantom workers from 2011 to 2014. This works out to an average of only 23 per year. An obviously incredibly low figure considering the number of employers who paid CPF contributions increased by 43,000 during the same period. Civil servants should conduct more audits instead of relying on public feedback and whistleblowers to do their job.
Lim Swee Say has not provided any detail of his Singaporean core grand plan and what’s shocking, Singaporeans don’t seem to be asking.
PAP’s quota on foreign workers allows companies to lower labour cost which results in depressing wages of Singaporeans. Many jobs are shunned by Singaporeans because wages have been depressed by government policies.
The low organic population growth does not permit a 2/3 Singaporean core labour force. In order to do continue importing 20,000 to 30,000 foreign workers annually, PAP will need to increase the number of new citizens/PRs to maintain the 2/3 ratio.
The foreign worker quota is reliant on increasing the number of PRs or granting citizenship to them. Wages in many sectors such as healthcare and service will be depressed. This is detrimental to Singaporeans’ interest.