Immediately following my speech on the Population White Paper in Parliament on 5 February 2013, several government Ministers rose to seek clarifications on the points I raised. Below is the transcript of my debate with them.
Mdm Speaker (Mdm Halimah Yacob): Mr Iswaran.
The Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr S Iswaran): Mdm Speaker, may I seek a clarification from the hon. Member? Am I right to infer from column one of his chart that was distributed that the implication is that under the Workers’ Party’s proposal, between 2013 and 2020, there will be no new additions to our foreign worker pool in Singapore? Indeed, if anything, there may be a slight decline. And secondly, that there will be no new Singapore citizens or PRs?
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: I thank the Minister for clarification. Firstly, under our plan, we have proposed a 1% increase in resident labour force growth. So, we do not envision a need to have additional foreign labour except if we cannot attain that 1% growth in resident labour force growth.
Mr S Iswaran: Just to be clear, the Workers’ Party is advocating zero foreign workforce addition for the next eight years, including this year?
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Our goal is to reach that 1% of resident workforce growth as a way to — [Interruption by the hon Member Mr S Iswaran]. I will answer that question. Our goal is to reach that 1%, at least 1% of resident workforce growth. So, our priority is to make sure that we do all we can to increase the labour force participation rate so that we can achieve that 1%. If we can achieve that 1% without having the additional foreign labour growth, then that I think will be a bonus for us.
Mr S Iswaran: Mdm Speaker, I appreciate the Member’s clarification. I paid close attention to this table because it is a serious proposal. And I read the footnote because it is quite clear from the footnote that for the period 2020 to 2030, the Workers’ Party envisages some selective top-ups to compensate for any decline in the resident workforce. But there is no such clarification footnote for the period 2013 to 2020. So, it must be assumed that you are assuming zero foreign worker addition, and there is no new Singapore citizen or PR.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: I think it would be reasonable to assume that. And I do not think there is anything wrong with having zero foreign workforce growth in the next eight years. But that is not primarily our target. Our target is to make sure that we maximise the local workforce participation.
Mr S Iswaran: State it for the record.
Mdm Speaker: Mr Tan.