~by: Leong Sze Hian~
How many Employment Passes were given last year?
How many passes were given to foreigners to stay for up to a year, to look for a job?
Without such statistics, how do we evaluate the impact on Singaporeans?
In addition, how many Employment Pass holders were converted to permanent residents (PRs) or citizens?
What is the break-down of statistics for permanent residents and new citizens?
In this connection, there was a clarification in the Sunday Times (Aug 14), that a clarification was requested by the Immigration Checkpoints Authority (ICA) that the reported number of PRs and new citizens is overstated because many PRs became citizens, and thus there was some double counting.
This errata may raise even more questions. Why didn’t the ICA say how many were converted from PRs to citizens? Since it was “many”, why not tell us exactly how many?
Does it not imply that some foreigners have been given citizenship directly, without having to become PRs first? How many of such direct citizens?
What is the break-down of how long it took for foreigners to be given PR, PRs to be given citizenship, etc?
In this respect, how do we compare with other developed countries?
Increasing minimum wage of Employment Passes?
Will raising the salary threshold for Employment Passes (EPs), help Singaporeans in regard to jobs?
For example, the Q-Pass has been raised from the current $2,800 to $3,000.
What this may mean to employers is that the savings from CPF (16 per cent) of employing a foreigner is $480.
So, all other things being equal, salary costs wise, a Singaporean worker would have to be willing to be paid $2,320 ($2,800 minus $480), to equate the same salary cost of EPs.
Another way of looking at it, may be that for the same job, EPs may save employers $480.
The primary problem is the S-Pass?
In this regard, I am puzzled as to why the S-Pass was not raised, as the example given in the National Day Rally speech was a complaint from a polytechnic graduate about S-Pass holders, and not the higher EPs.
So, in a sense, foreigners may have a raised minimum wage, whereas Singaporeans may continue to have their wages depressed by foreigners, in the same jobs.
However, not all other things are equal, because employers may still prefer foreigners because of National Service, maternity leave, less turnover for foreigners on 2-year contracts, etc.
In the final analysis, we may only know when future labour data are released, as to whether the trend of increasing difficulties for Professionals, Managers, Engineers and Technicians (PMETs) in getting jobs, keeping them and finding another one, will be reversed.
Better qualified foreign workers?
Finally, since as I understand it, almost all Employment Pass holders already have a degree, how else can we ensure that they need to show better educational qualifications so that we can make sure that they come with real skills valuable to us? — Masters degrees or PhDs?
In practically every developed country in the world, the only objective test may be whether a Singaporean can do the job, and that only jobs that Singaporeans do not have the education skills or experience for, should be given to foreigners. Otherwise, the current locals unemployment rate of 3 per cent (unknown for Singaporeans) and declining real wages for about 40 per cent of workers for the last decade or so, may continue to persist or worsen.