EP minimum qualifying salary only $100 more than SG fresh grads’ median pay of $3,500

It was reported that on Thursday (1 Aug), Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told Bloomberg that the two-year programme planned to entice foreign tech talent to work in Singapore may be opened to other industries, apart from the technology-driven ones.

Chan said that he is all set to extend the programme to other fields, without actually naming the areas. Chan was trying to get his message to foreigners through the international news agency.

“Singapore has never limited top talent coming into Singapore,” Chan said. “These are not people competing with the average Singaporean, these are the people who are competing for Singapore.”

Chan’s comment came after the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore announced on Tuesday (30 Jul) that foreign PMETs looking to work in Singapore as “core team members” of technology companies might have more flexible requirements over the application of their Employment Pass (EP).

EDB and Enterprise Singapore said they will help “facilitate” easier entry of foreign PMETs to become “core team members” of technology companies operating in Singapore.

It is obvious that the government wants to increase the number of foreigners on EP in Singapore for all industries in the coming years but is afraid of incurring backlash from the Singaporean public.

Hence, it opted to surreptitiously first announce the need for “foreign talents” in the tech industry on Tuesday, which Singaporeans are less likely to make noise, before slipping in its main intent of “opening up” the programme to “other industries” 2 days later.

In essence, it boils down to issuing more EPs for foreigners to work in Singapore in the coming years under the new 4G PAP leadership.

Netizens have been quick to note that that the minimum qualifying salary for an EP holder is only $3,600, which is just $100 more than the median pay of $3,500 of what our fresh graduates got last year.

If these foreigners are truly “talented” and “experienced”, wouldn’t they be commanding a pay of at least 2 or 3 times what our fresh graduates can get? Many netizens asked.

MOM conned by companies into issuing EPs for “fake talents”

Meanwhile, it was reported earlier this year that the Manpower Ministry (MOM) was conned by a F&B company, GD Group, into issuing EPs to 20 “fake talents”.

GD Group deceived MOM into issuing EPs to 20 of its foreign employees, when they did not meet the requirements.

Between February 2013 and July 2015, GD Group falsely declared salary amounts of between $4,000 and $4,800 for its 20 foreign employees to meet the salary requirement for EPs, while actually paying them between $1,500 and $2,200.

Also, it’s not known what kind of “acceptable” qualifications the foreign workers had submitted which somehow, further convinced MOM to issue the EPs.

MOM acknowledged that the company falsely declared the salaries in order to circumvent foreign worker quota rules by hiring foreigners on EPs but paying them less than the declared salaries in the work pass applications.

Presently, there is no quota imposed on foreigners hired on EP as they are deemed to be “talented” PMETs.

MOM later fined the company $94,500 for making the false declarations in work pass applications. No jail term was imposed on the company directors.