Association of Small and Medium Enterprises hits out at Workers' Party population paper

The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) has hit out at the Workers' Party's population paper calling it "another blow to the local SME community".

It took issue especially with the WP's proposal to grow the resident workforce by 1 per cent a year by attracting more women and older Singaporeans back to the workforce and to freeze foreign worker numbers at the present level.

These were among the proposals in the WP's 38-page paper issued on Saturday, which summarises the key arguments made by its Members of Parliament during the Population White Paper debate earlier this month.

On raising resident labour force participation rate, the ASME said: "This is easier said than done as there is an element of mismatch between available jobs and workers' expectations."

It added that SMEs have already accepted the government's tightening of the number of foreign workers, but "only to now hear that the WP proposes an even more drastic deceleration".

The association also warned that WP's proposal can lower the overall quality of life for Singaporeans. As more SMEs quit when they cannot hire enough Singaporeans, there will be fewer professional, executive and managerial (PME) jobs, which will in turn hurt Singaporeans as the number of these better-paying jobs shrink. Its bottom line: "ASME supports the view that the government should encourage resident workforce growth, however, not at the expense of simply cutting down to zero foreign workforce growth."

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