Minister for Trade and Industry (MTI), Chan Chun Sing has said that increasing minimum salary threshold for Employment Passes (EPs) and S Passes is an indication that the Government is “re-doubling up efforts” to emphasise on “quality rather than quantity”. Chan’s statements come as Minister for Manpower (MOM), Josephine Teo, insists that there is no need for a quota on the number of EPs issued on the basis that imposing a quota on EP holders may result in Singapore losing “many of the top-quality investments” to competitors.
However, wouldn’t a quota help the Government be focused on getting “quality rather than quantity”? After all, if companies know that there will only be a finite number of EPs issued, wouldn’t they be far more selective in who they choose to hire?
With that in mind, wouldn’t a quota work better to ensure quality over increasing the salary thresholds?
Teo cites the need for attracting investments as a reason for not imposing quotas. She says : “We must therefore not miss the woods for the trees, by focusing narrowly on keeping foreigners out, and missing the larger picture of growing the pie and giving Singaporeans the chance of the best slice”.
Yet, what we have not yet got to the bottom of is how these so called investments help the average Singaporeans. While these investments certainly help the profit margins of companies, how do they benefit the majority of average Singaporeans? Do we have specific data on how many good quality jobs are generated for Singaporeans directly as a result of these investments?
In the absence of such specific data, does Teo have a basis to suggest that such investments are indeed worth it for the benefit of Singapore as a whole? Is there any point in growing a pie that only foreigners or large corporates are going to eat?
Secondly, do Chan and Teo’s statements contradict each other? Or, are they simply talking in silo without first discussing for consensus? Neither scenario is particular reassuring especially in light of the growing number of foreign PMETs as the number of unemployed local PMETs appear to also be on the up?
Chan is saying that the Government wants quality over quantity while Teo is saying that a quota could potentially offend other countries and reduce foreign investment. Are the MTI and the MOM talking at cross purposes?