Foreign workers not only helped the Singapore economy to grow but also helped raise the median income of Singaporeans, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his Budget speech yesterday.
That contradicts a Wall Street Journal report last month, which I quoted in an earlier post.
The minister and the Journal both agree the foreign workers helped the economy to grow.
But their presence was a damper on productivity and blue-collar wages, according to the Journal.
Foreign workers — over a million strong — make up about a third of the Singapore workforce.
The median monthly income of people working full-time rose 0.5% from 2,590 Singapore dollars in June 2008 to 2,600 Singapore dollars in June 2009, after soaring 11% in 2008 and 7.7% in 2007, the Ministry of Manpower reported on November 30, 2009.
But many Singaporeans are unhappy about the influx of foreign workers.
The minister said there was a need to "moderate the growth of the foreign workforce", using a "price mechanism", like for any other product in the market.