Ex-GIC Chief Economist wants immigration policy to be reversed
Posted by temasektimes on August 24, 2012
The relentless influx of cheap unskilled foreign workers over the past decade has depressed the wages of Singapore’s lower-income workers leading to the creation of a separate, growing class of poor citizens, said former Chief Economist to the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) Yeoh Kam Keong.
In an interview with Yahoo News, Mr Yeoh used the term ‘the working poor’ to describe the bottom 10 per cent of working household breadwinners, who hold full-time jobs, but yet find themselves entrenched in the poverty cycle
“In other words, even if you’re fully employed, you may barely earn enough money to bring up a family decently or to improve your children’s economic opportunities. It’s a poverty in work, as opposed to poverty because you don’t have a job,” the 54-year-old said.
Mr Yeoh added that mass immigration of foreign unskilled workers has depressed the wages of working-class Singaporeans as local firms hire more foreign workers who are willing to accept lower pay, and locals are then forced to accept little or no increases in their salaries to keep their jobs.
“Therefore this policy needs to be reversed. What we need to do is be much more stringent on admitting such unskilled labour. We’ve really got no excuse to be so relaxed about this kind of immigration,” he quipped.
Foreigners now make up 40 percent of Singapore’s population. Of the remaining 60 percent who are ‘citizens’, an increasing number are born overseas.