Gerald Giam: no increase in foreign workers if resident workforce grows at 1 per cent

Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam sketched his party's alternative population roadmap in Parliament today.

It projects that modest GDP growth of 2.5 to 3.5 per cent per annum from now until 2020 can be achieved largely by combining productivity gains with expanding the resident workforce by 1 per cent every year.

From 2020 to 2030, as productivity gains slow, it projects that GDP growth of 1.5 to 2.5 per cent per annum can be achieved.

Expanding the resident workforce will be done through attracting more homemakers, senior citizens and the foreign spouses of citizens to the labour market. Raising the labour force participation rate in this way would be more sustainable than expanding the population through importing foreigners, he said.

If the resident workforce can be boosted by 1 per cent a year, then the WP believes that no additional foreign labour should be brought in beyond current levels.

The WP's proposal also wants to see new citizens capped at 10,000 a year, substantially lower than the Government's White Paper proposal of 15,000 to 25,000 a year.

The speech in Parliament was followed by a heated exchange between Mr Giam and several several Ministers and PAP MPs on how the WP's plan will sound the death knell for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which rely on foreign labour. Various business groups have already sounded the alarm that the White Paper's projections will have devastating consequences for businesses.

Mr Giam countered that SMEs must restructure sooner or later away from their reliance on foreign labour, and that the Government should help them to do so now.

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