Coronavirus Singapore

MOM looking at ways to help firms hit by India travel ban: Minister

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is sympathetic towards employers in certain sectors impacted by the ban on travellers with recent travel history to India and is looking at ways to help them.

The ministry will explore meaningful options, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, citing how the Government is helping companies bring in more workers from China.

Speaking to the media during a visit to NTUC LearningHub yesterday, Ms Teo said the tightened border restrictions had made it tougher for employers to bring in workers to replace those who have returned home.

"There is indeed a very tight situation in some sectors like construction where project deadlines have to be met, and we are looking at ways in which we can relieve it," she said.

On Monday, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced three measures, including the temporary easing of a skills-certification rule for workers from China, to help the construction sector cope with the manpower crunch due to the tighter border restrictions on India.

BCA noted that the travel ban had impacted the flow of Indian workers into Singapore, as well as companies in the construction sector that are dependent on them.

When asked if MOM would be providing support to construction firms impacted by the manpower crunch, Ms Teo pointed out that an inflow of migrant workers from India could lead to the risk of more imported Covid-19 cases in Singapore.

She added that if the Covid-19 situation in another country worsens, that will raise the risk for Singapore, which must make adjustments.

If Singapore does not change the inflow from countries with riskier Covid-19 situations, that could potentially jeopardise what Singapore has done so far to curb infections, she added.

Ms Teo said: "If we have a resurgence, we will have to implement even tougher measures, which will impact a broader range of businesses. We try very hard to avoid that.

"Thus, we are exploring ways with the sector agencies so we can be more helpful to companies."

It is also ideal for companies in other sectors impacted by the India travel ban, such as the tech sector, to look farther afield and consider diversifying their worker pool, she added.

Ms Teo said: "We will be working with companies to help them explore options that they think are meaningful for them."


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2021, with the headline MOM looking at ways to help firms hit by India travel ban: Minister. Subscribe