At the core of Singapore's economy is the participation of foreign workers. Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew
has said that without such guest workers, our economy would collapse.
Additionally, he indicated that in 2010 "we've grown in the last five
years by just importing labour." (emphasis added)
such a scenario, it is to be expected that Finance Minister Tharman
Shanmugaratnam, in releasing the 2012 Budget, has focused on the subject
of foreign workers and the issue of productivity.
Sadly, however, he has said nothing new. In calling for the
foreign-workers levy to be used to boost productivity levels, he is in
effect repeating the Budget he presented in 2010 which called for a
gradual increase in the levy to reduce our dependence on foreign labour.
Lee Kuan Yew added a time frame for it: "The next five years, we have
decided we will tier down our need for foreign workers."
This, however, was not carried out. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in November 2011,
barely two years after the policy was introduced, that "the more you
tighten the inflow [of foreign workers], the slower growth is going to
be and that’s something Singaporeans will have to understand.”
This accounts for the plunge in productivity levels to 1 percent last year from 11 percent the previous year. The Ministry of Trade and Industry
has said that this was due to a weak economy in 2011. This is not true.
The real reason for the drastic reduction in productivity is the huge
intake of foreign workers.
The real question is: If the Finance
Minister said in 2010 that we would increase the foreign-workers levy to
reduce our over-reliance on foreign labour and Government did the exact
opposite the following year, how do we know that the policy would be
adhered to this time? This is especially significant in light of PM Lee
saying that we would need to raise the number of foreigners coming in to
Singapore with a weakening economy.
How does one trust a Government that says one thing and then does the exact opposite?
SDP will present its Shadow Budget on 20 February 2012 which will
address this issue as well as other areas of our national expenditure.
This year's Budget is nothing new and without significant re-allocation
of our expenditure, our economy will continue to remain unstable and
prone to wild swings. As a result, Singaporeans will continue to hurt
and their socio-economic problems will not be addressed.
Vincent Wijeysingha Treasurer Singapore Democratic Party
Shadow BudgetSunday, 19 February 2012SingaporeDemocratsPrint