SINGAPORE: Members of Parliament (MPs) began the debate on the government’s White Paper on Population on Monday.
MP for Marine Parade GRC and CEO of NTUC FairPrice, Seah Kian Peng told Parliament that he has been receiving many calls and requests from public and community to have more supermarkets closer to their homes.
They also want longer trading hours for their convenience.
Mr Seah said NTUC FairPrice employs close to 9,000 staff but at the same time it has close to 900 job vacancies.
Its workforce comprises about 80 per cent Singapore citizens, 10 per cent permanent residents (PR) and 10 per cent foreign workers.
Mr Seah said: "Our dependency ratio allows us to get up to 45 per cent foreign staff but we choose not to. NTUC FairPrice’s management team, for that matter, our entire team is Singaporean core and we will have it no other way."
But he cautioned that like many businesses, the manpower shortage was hurting NTUC FairPrice.
Staff are feeling the strain and the cooperative cannot open new supermarkets as fast and as many it would like to, in response to what the public wants.
Mr Seah said: "But we do need and we do appreciate the 10 per cent foreign staff that is part of our employment. They, together with our 80 per cent locals and 10 per cent PR staff, help us provide the level of service and convenience to the public.
"Still, we do from time to time also get criticized for employing ’so many foreigners’... And yet, we are 900 staff short. I use this example to show why this issue needs to be calibrated more finely and to speak up on behalf of all SMEs here who, like NTUC FairPrice, collectively employ thousands of Singaporeans — it is not just a them—us dichotomy."
Mr Seah said the organisation will continue to leverage information technology to help mitigate the manpower shortage and increase productivity.
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