Mon, May 31, 2010
my paper
Some seek PR status only to get hands on CPF savings

LAST Saturday, I was upset by a former colleague who had relinquished his permanent-resident (PR) status in Singapore.

He bade me farewell, saying: "I am going back to the Philippines to retire. I cashed out all my CPF (Central Provident Fund) savings but I will come back, as a tourist."

He showed me photos of his new home in the Philippines, renovated luxuriously and comparable to a Good Class Bungalow here.

His attitude made me see red.

Have we taken measures to ensure that only people who genuinely want to settle down in Singapore and contribute to the nation's economic growth are made PRs?

I work in human resources, and some of my foreign colleagues who earn less than $2,500 monthly are PRs.

Almost all the foreigners in my workplace are vying for PR status. Some do so because the mandatory contributions to their CPF accounts result in savings which they can take out when they decide to leave.

For new PRs, the CPF contribution rates are graduated, but they get full rates from the third year onwards (the same contribution rates as Singaporeans).

Perhaps the CPF Board should revise the contribution rates for PRs to make it less attractive for those who want the status only for the CPF savings.

Foreigners who have become PRs find it easier to apply for jobs in Singapore, compared to those who are on employment passes.

PR status aside, are employers providing fair employment opportunities to Singaporeans?

Are graduates from Singapore universities not comparable to graduates from foreign universities, such as those in the Philippines, China, Myanmar, Hong Kong and Indonesia?

Before employers decide to hire a foreigner, have they exhausted all reasonable recruitment options in Singapore first?

It is a myth that foreigners have lower salary expectations than Singaporeans.

Of the foreigners who graduated from a university in their home country, the majority whom I have met and interviewed expect much higher salaries than, or salaries comparable to, what a Singaporean with a good local degree would get.

Their reasons include having to pay rental fees and utility bills, to remit money to their families and to pay for their children's education in their home country.

But Singaporeans also have similar burdens: mortgage payments, utility bills, children's education fees, as well as a sum of money to be put aside for elders as a form of filial piety.

Besides, a foreigner's salary could turn out to be quite a substantial sum after currency conversion.

I hope that employers will provide employment opportunities to Singaporeans before considering foreigners.


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