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Singapore told to restrict foreign workers

Singapore must limit the influx of foreign workers and develop the skills of its own population to keep one of Asia’s richest countries growing, a top-level commission said.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2010 01:14 IST

Singapore must limit the influx of foreign workers and develop the skills of its own population to keep one of Asia’s richest countries growing, a top-level commission said.

The commission representing government, corporate and union leaders warns that Singapore’s economic growth will slow to between 3 and 5 per cent a year over the next decade even if reforms are implemented.

Growth has averaged about 7.5 per cent a year since 1961. “We’re not against foreign workers,” said Lim Swee Say, secretary general of the National Trades Union Congress and a commission member.

“But like wine, too much is a bad thing, and it dilutes focus from productivity.”

Most foreign workers, which account for a third of the city-state’s workforce, toil as construction workers, maids and in other low paying occupations.

Critics say cheap foreign labour has held down wages for Singaporeans though few want to take low-status jobs.