Over $2 billion of construction projects deferred to stagger foreign worker demand

Over $2 billion of construction projects deferred to stagger foreign worker demand
People work on a construction site in the financial district in Singapore on April 30, 2014

More than $2 billion of public construction projects will be deferred in order to spread out labour demand, as the Government continues to slow the inflow of foreign workers, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday.


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Here is an except from PM Lee's speech in Parliament on population, foreign PMEs and foreign construction workers, in point-form:

Population

a. Debate on the Population White Paper was vigorous and emotional

b. But it helped people to better understand the issue, and the Government to work out our plans

c. We are significantly reducing inflow of new arrivals, making a clear transition in our economy, and will review our population planning parameters nearer 2020

- One major issue in working out our population policy is how many foreign workers to allow

a. We have slowed inflow of foreign workers considerably, but did not freeze the numbers

b. Numbers still growing but much slower than before

i. Inflow of foreign workers almost halved since 2011

ii. Excluding construction, foreign workers growing a quarter as fast as in 2011

c. But even this slowdown has been painful for companies, especially SMEs

i. Many SMEs are struggling (Teo Siong Seng, Gan Thiam Poh)

ii. Some have had to shift their operations out of Singa¬pore, to Malaysia

iii. If we push them too hard, they may not survive, and many Singa¬porean jobs will be at risk

iv. Met several Malay SME owners at the SMCCI Malay Muslim Business Conference several weeks ago

v. They told me the business is there, but they just cannot find the workers

vi. Asked me to help

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