Singapore wants to attract more foreign talent. It has always welcomed foreigners and many become permanent residents and even settle down as citizens. Now Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wants even more people to come from abroad because the population is not growing fast enough to sustain the economy.
Singapore has nearly 4.5 million people. The government wants the population to grow to six to seven million by 2030. That would be impossible with just 36,000 babies born last year unless more foreigners come to Singapore.
The government plans to make it easier for foreigners to work in Singapore. So far, they could come to work only after work permits or employment passes were obtained for them by the company employing them. Once they left the company, the pass or permit was cancelled. Now the government is considering introducing work permits that won’t be tied to the employer, which means a foreigner will be able to change jobs.
Not every Singaporean wants more foreigners to come and compete for jobs. But the government knows what’s best for the economy. And the idea apparently is the better foreigners won’t be foreigners for long: they will be encouraged to become Singaporeans.
Singapore offered citizenship to 12,900 foreigners last year, twice the recent average of 6,000 to 7,000, reports Little Speck, a local site.
In the first half of this year, another 6,800 foreigners were sworn in as citizens – as many as the whole of 2004, it adds.
So should one come to work in Singapore?
I won’t offer my personal opinion because it may be biased: I love Singapore. Time and again, I have written here about the law and order and the peace and comfort one finds in Singapore.
Everything is close at hand. Even neighbourhood supermarkets carry food and wine — yes, wine — from around the world.
One can go out at all hours. Taxis are available round the clock. Public transport is excellent.
Taxes are low and the procedures simple. A salaried worker doesn’t need a tax consultant to file taxes. He can do it himself on the Internet.
There are international schools offering not just the International Baccalaureate and the GCSE but even following the Indian Central Board curriculum. Singapore’s own school system is said to be excellent, though not every school may be as good as the really good ones in Calcutta (Kolkata), Delhi, Chennai or Mumbai (Bombay).
Housing depends on one’s budget, of course, but it’s generally good.
What else is there to consider?
Well, anyone thinking of coming to Singapore should check out the guidebooks and information sites, including the Singapore government online portal and the local newspapers, Today, and Stomp Interactive, the free site of The Straits Times. The government portal may be a bit of a maze, so it’s best to check specific authorities such as the Ministry of Education, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and the Singapore Tourism Board.