Singapore wants more ‘sustainable’ foreign labour dependency

Buildings in the central business district are reflected in the facade of the Louis Vuitton Island Maison store, operated by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, right, as the sun sets in Singapore. (Bloomberg pic)

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said the tightening in foreign worker rules announced in the budget this week was a “surgical” move targeted at specific industries to make the labour market more sustainable.

The aim is “to make sure that the Singapore foreign manpower dependency is on a sustainable trajectory,” Chan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin in Singapore.

“We are not going to have an unlimited number of foreign workers in Singapore but what we have and what we want is a higher quality of foreign workers.”

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his budget speech on Monday that quotas for foreign workers in services industries, such as food and retail, will be lowered from next year to help boost productivity and curb labour growth.

Chan also said Singapore is positioning itself to remain neutral and open to both the US and China amid mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies.