Amy Khor says WP proposal on White Paper on Population will hurt businesses

A DAY after the Workers' Party attacked the White Paper on Population and offered its own alternative, Minister of State (Health and Manpower) Amy Khor said their proposal could hurt the very people it wants to help.

The WP's idea to sharply cut workforce growth to 0.5 per cent a year from 3.3 per cent per annum over the past three decades would "exact punishing cost" on local businesses and some multi-national corporations, she said on Tuesday, in a sharply-worded response to WP chairman Sylvia Lim.

"Under this scenario, many companies are likely to fold or move out of Singapore whilst others will not be attracted to set up shop here resulting in fewer jobs for Singaporeans," said Dr Khor.

Already, many businesses are complaining of tighter immigration policies, she said. To curb immigration or foreign workforce growth to safeguard citizens could, ironically, "hurt the very people this reversal is intended to help".

Putting the ball back in the WP's court, Dr Khor said it will be instructive to find out how the opposition party's MPs explain how the proposed 0.5 per cent workforce growth annually will translate into growth in resident and foreign workforce, and the number of new citizens and PRs.

Dr Khor also took aim at Ms Lim's argument that the white paper's focus on a "strong Singaporean core" was an empty one, with the share of Singaporeans projected to fall to 55 per cent of the population in 2030 from the current 62 per cent, and will include new citizens.

Asking whether the fact that she was not born in Singapore made her any less Singaporean, Dr Khor said: "It is unhelpful and unfair to distinguish between local born Singaporeans and new citizens and cast doubts on the loyalty of the latter."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.