Updated: 03/06/2014 02:21

Singapore needs to remain open to foreigners

Singapore needs to remain open to foreigners

Singapore must continue to be a country that is open to foreigners, but has Singaporeans as the core of its workforce. 

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Grace Fu, said this during the Budget 2014 Committee of Supply debate for the Prime Minister's Office. 

She said that Singapore risks shutting out opportunities and innovation that is available in open, global cities if it closes its doors to foreigners. 

But Ms Fu acknowledged that Singaporeans are concerned about being displaced. 

A greater diversity of people could lead to social tensions, while uneven distribution of growth could give rise to pressures on equity and fairness. 

Crowded spaces could also make Singaporeans feel discomfort. 

Ms Fu stressed that the government is taking steps to address these challenges. 

It will support local enterprises and ensure that Singaporeans are fairly considered for jobs, through the Fair Consideration Framework. 

It is also working with employers to provide opportunities for Singaporeans to upgrade their skills, through measures such as Work Pro. 

The National Integration Council is also working with schools, workplaces and the community to promote greater integration.

Ms Fu said that the government has committed to ensure that Singaporeans will continue to benefit from its policies. 

Positive examples so far include growth in wages, and improvements to healthcare and education. 

It is also tackling current infrastructure strains, while planning and investing ahead of future demand. 

"This transformational journey will take time, and is not without its challenges. As the pace of population growth slows, we must strike a delicate balance between concerns over the inflow of foreigners, and Singaporeans' social, economic and infrastructure needs. We have and will continue to plan ahead to balance the trade-offs."

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