SINGAPORE: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Grace Fu has said that the government is studying the opposition Workers’ Party’s (WP) Population paper released on Saturday.
However, she added the key difference in the WP’s paper and the government’s paper, which has been endorsed in parliament, is in its approach.
Posting on her Facebook page, Ms Fu said the WP wants to freeze foreign workforce growth immediately which she said, will hurt Singapore small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and workers.
She said the government’s plan on the other hand is to significantly tighten the inflow of new foreign workers, but allow businesses time to make adjustment and help SMEs in particular, make the transition.
Ms Fu touched on several points raised in the WP’s paper.
Among them is the argument that by raising the resident labour force participation rate, Singapore can maintain its non—resident workforce at the current numbers.
Ms Fu said this will "cause great hardship to Singaporeans and SMEs", which employ 70 per cent of Singaporean workers.
She said if these businesses fail, many Singaporean workers and their families will suffer and added healthcare, construction of HDB homes, and train lines will also be affected badly.
"WP argues that by encouraging more senior citizens and homemakers to work, we don’t need additional foreign workers. But how can our seniors and women fill the need for workers now where we need them most — such as construction and cleaning/maintenance?", said Ms Fu.
"The Paper mentioned (South) Korea as the ideal model for Marriage & Parenthood (M&P). We have studied many countries and consulted extensively before arriving at a comprehensive M&P package. We are prepared to consider all workable ideas. By the way, (South) Korea’s recent TFR is 1.23 and Seoul’s is 1.02, lower than Singapore’s despite having implemented the package since 2005," she added.
She noted that the WP’s paper showed agreement with the government on the need to make Marriage and Parenthood a priority, increase productivity and labour participation among seniors and homemakers.
These, she said are priorities that the government has been pursuing vigorously for some time.
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