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Singapore – Government tightens foreign worker policies

26 February 2013

Singapore's government yesterday announced plans to cut the number of low-skilled foreign workers that companies can employ. The move aims to reduce the city-state's dependence on overseas labour.

Tighter controls on foreign worker policies include more levies on firms that employ low-skilled foreign workers over the next two years, a cut in foreign worker quotas and stricter qualification guidelines. These changes are going to particularly affect services, construction and marine businesses, which rely on foreign workforce.

The news was announced on Monday by the country’s finance minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who unveiled the 2013 budget.

“We cannot cut off the flow of foreign workers abruptly, but we have to slow its growth,” said Mr Shanmugaratnam said. “We are therefore making these further adjustments, and we have to do so in full knowledge of the difficulties they will pose for many of our companies.”

There has been rising concern over growing living costs, soaring house prices and overcrowding which many blame on immigrants. But at the same time curbs are feared to hinder economic growth.

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