Allowing immigration does not mean that Singapore does not take its marriage and parenthood objectives seriously, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu said in Parliament on Tuesday.
She said that contrary to what Workers' Party MPs have said in the debate on the White Paper on Population, encouraging marriage and parenthood is central to the Government's policies.
But at the same time, it is "realistic about how quickly birthrates can improve," and its ambitious goal of raising the total fertility rate from the current 1.2 to 1.4 to 1.5 will take time, she added.
In the meantime, the Government's approach "has been to supplement our citizen population with a calibrated pace of immigration."
She reiterated the Government's moves towards immigration of a "slower rate but better quality". These include tightening citizenship criteria in 2009 and reducing the number of permanent residencies given out from a high of 79,000 in 2008, to an average of 29,000 per year in the last three years.
Many PRs would have stayed in Singapore for some time. Many are also dependants who go through Singapore's school system and serve national service, while others are spouses or children of citizens. And most new citizens will also have been PRs for several years, she said.
Of the 15,000 to 25,000 new citizenships the Government will grant each year, the vast majority are PRs, while about 2,000 are the children of overseas Singaporeans.