SINGAPORE: Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan—Jin expects more Employment Pass (EP) holders to be downgraded to hold an S Pass.
In a written parliamentary reply on Monday, Mr Tan said this is because all EP renewals after July this year will be subjected to the tighter EP framework introduced in January.
He pointed out there has been an impact of the EP tightening measures.
The number of S Pass workers has grown by 14,200 in the first half of this year, as the number of EPs fell.
7,800 of these S Pass holders would have qualified for EP if not for the stricter criteria.
Among this group of "downgraders", 4,000 were new applicants who could have qualified for an EP under the pre—January 2012 framework, but were issued S Passes instead.
In addition, 3,800 were existing EP holders who had to "downgrade" to an S Pass, as they did not meet the stricter EP criteria upon renewal.
Mr Tan explained that the shifting of lower—end EP holders to S Pass is an intended outcome of the tighter EP framework.
At the same time, he said the underlying demand for S Passes remains robust.
In particular, S Pass growth in the construction sector has been strong due to various ongoing building and public infrastructure projects.
Mr Tan said his ministry is continuing to monitor the numbers closely as not all S Pass tightening measures have taken effect.
The S Pass Dependency Ratio Ceiling was only reduced from July 2012, and employers are allowed to keep existing workers till July 2014.
The S Pass levy is also scheduled to increase till July 2013.
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