SINGAPORE : Fewer immigrants were granted permanent residency and citizenship this year, according to the first Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review which outlines challenges for the government.
Competition for jobs from foreigners, rising property prices and over-crowding in public transportation were among concerns raised by Singaporeans over the hot issue of foreigners and immigrants in Singapore.
In a sign that these concerns have been heard, the growth of citizens and permanent residents has slowed significantly to 1.01 per cent this year, compared to 2.5 per cent in 2009.
Recognising concerns over the influx of foreigners, the government has taken steps to manage this growth. These include tightening the framework for granting permanent residency and citizenship.
In addition, infrastructure for transport, housing and other amenities is being enhanced to accommodate gradual population growth.
The government has also said it will keep the foreign share of the workforce at one-third.
However, it added that with Singapore's low fertility rate, the country must remain open to high calibre immigrants to boost the population and sustain competitiveness.
One sociologist said anxieties among citizens must be eased.
Professor Jean Yeung, a sociologist at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, said: “To affirm that local Singaporeans are the priority of Singapore society, making sure that their life is well taken care of, infrastructure is well, you need to increase the immigrants, but the local population shouldn't feel threatened about it.”
Professor Yeung added that there has to be more education and outreach efforts to show the contributions that immigrants are making in Singapore.
Another issue for the government involves the CPF minimum sum requirement, where S$123,000 must be set aside for retirement.
In 2009, only 49 per cent of workers were able to meet the requirement upon reaching 55 years old.
This raises concerns over the ability of the elderly to depend on themselves in retirement, and the potential need for more support from the government.
Prof Yeung said: “Older people rely a lot on their children to support them. And now a large proportion of people don't even get married or have children. So that means they are going to need to accumulate enough on their own, or the government will have to increase their support to the elderly population.”
The report looked at six broad areas, including sustainable economic growth and building a cohesive society.
There are plans to publish the report every two years.
Channel News Asia