In September this year, Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin has confirmed that more (30% of fresh and renewal) Singapore Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass applications were rejected in the first 7 months of this year alone, compared to the whole of 2011 (26%).
He was responding to Nee Soon GRC’s Member of Parliament, Dr. Lee Bee Wah’s, question of whether the successive calibration of the Singapore work visa framework was hurting small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Minister Tan affirmed that the measures were not designed to hurt SMEs and that all Singapore companies hiring foreign workers will be affected.
Just recently, Nominated MP Teo Siong Seng, has raised this issue in Parliament, calling on the government to review the eligibility requirements of grants offered to SMEs and to slow down the calibration of foreign work pass framework. He hopes these measures will help SMEs keep afloat as they struggle to cope with the republic’s rapid economic restructuring. He also added that increasing productivity is a continuous and long-term process and that SMEs require time to achieve this.
In response, the Government said that it will review its programs to make them more accessible to SMEs and that the alignment of its foreign manpower policies do not hamper growth opportunities for firms.