Changes to foreign work pass policy confusing for nation

Year: 2020

In response to Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing’s comments on the shifting priorities of Singapore from quantity to quality, FMG CEO Devadas emphasises that this is no policy innovation and lacks clear economic directionalism for the nation:

“The curiosities of the Minister’s pronouncement that the focus should be on quality and not quantity are perplexing. First, after pursuing government policy of supply-induced demand for two decades, even in the face of evidence that it induced a regression in labour force productivity and provoked social tensions, he makes his point as if it were a sudden discovery.

Second, both industry and society have been advocating for an immigration policy predicated on proven talent and which meets future economic needs. So the Minister’s decision is not a sign of leadership but followership.

Third, there is an underlying concern that the policy pendulum is going to swing from easy access to an overshoot to overcontrolled access as an SOP to populism arising from a combination of political insecurity and lack of clear economic directionalism which can give assurance to the nation.

Finally, the mechanism of using wage floors to control eligibility is inherently flawed and prone to gaming so that leaves the open question as to how civil servants will determine what is quality in a way which solves for X in the economic matching challenge between dynamic demand and the appropriate level and nature of supply. Without explanation, this is rhetoric not historic.”