The Government recognises that Singapore cannot grow its foreigner population indefinitely and is now seeking public views as it sets out to formulate a sustainable population policy.
In a paper released on Thursday, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) noted that the Government has to calibrate the inflow of foreigners into the workforce to “support a shift to a higher value, more productive economy”.
Several measures already put in place, including higher levies, lower Dependency Ratio Ceilings and higher income and education criteria for the foreign workforce, have been progressively tightened across all skills levels.
Some will have to be phased in over time to allow businesses to restructure and adapt.
But Singaporeans also have to consider how these changes will impact the need for economic growth, which is essentially to create jobs for them.
The document, which is available online, aims to help Singaporeans understand the choices and trade-offs the country has to make in the face of complex demographic challenges – declining birth rates, a shrinking workforce and an ageing population, for instance.
A video released as part of the paper, and which can be seen at www.population.sg, says Singapore is “facing a daunting challenge that may put at risk the Singapore story”. It warned of a vicious cycle of a declining birth rate leading to a greying population, which in turn would slow down businesses and the economy, leaving the young and able-bodied to seek greener pastures abroad.
The NPTD also released the latest figures of the current population in the paper.
As of December 2011, Singapore’s total population stands at 5.26 million, of which, 2 million or 38 per cent are permanent residents (0.54 million) and non-residents (1.46 million), which largely consist of work permit holders. There are currently 3.27 million Singapore citizens. That works out to roughly 1 in 3 people in Singapore being either a foreigner or permanent resident.
When asked if Singapore has a maximum population capacity, an NPTD spokesperson told Yahoo! Singapore that the limit is dependent on how they “plan ahead and make the best use of our land”, to ensure a good quality living environment.
The division also highlighted the importance of having Singaporeans develop a shared understanding of issues, to find the right balance to build a sustainable population.
It is hence soliciting feedback from the public in areas ranging from supporting marriage and parenthood to reducing immigration and encouraging integration. Views consolidated from the exercise will go towards a white paper on population, scheduled for release at the end of the year.
The public can submit their suggestions from today until the end of October online at www.population.sg or email email@example.com.