Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Singaporeans support Budget measures to tighten foreigner inflow: REACH survey

Two-thirds of 927 citizens polled also feel Budget will help build a better S'pore
By Tessa Wong, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2013

CLOSE to nine in 10 Singaporeans support measures in this year's Budget to tighten the inflow of foreign workers, according to a new REACH poll.

The telephone survey of 927 citizens, conducted shortly after the Government announced its Budget on Feb 25, also found that overall, there was strong approval for the Budget. Two-thirds said its measures would contribute significantly towards building a better Singapore for Singaporeans.

REACH is the Government's feedback arm, and is chaired by Minister of State for Manpower and Health Amy Khor.

About 87 per cent of those polled support measures to raise foreign worker levies, while about 89 per cent support a reduction of the Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) in the service and marine sectors.

The DRC is a quota setting the maximum number of foreign workers a firm can hire for every full-time local worker it employs.

Many also agreed with the tightening of criteria for the S Pass and Employment Pass, with about 89 per cent saying they supported this move.

The minimum S Pass qualifying monthly salary will be raised from $2,000 to $2,200 on July 1. The Employment Pass framework will also be adjusted, especially for the lowest-level Q1 pass holders who earn between $3,000 and $4,500 a month.

One of the more controversial measures from the Budget, the Wage Credit Scheme, also got a thumbs-up. Some seven in 10 of those polled believed it would prompt businesses to raise salaries. This scheme sees the Government co-funding wage increases for Singaporeans earning up to $4,000 a month.

As for the measures to build a more inclusive society, 67 per cent agreed that the changes in this Budget towards a more progressive tax structure are a step in the right direction. These include higher taxes on investment properties and luxury homes and tiered Additional Registration Fees for cars.

Dr Khor noted in a statement yesterday that the results show "a strong support for Budget 2013 initiatives, in particular, for measures to help businesses restructure for quality growth through tightening foreign manpower policies and improving productivity".

She added that she hopes to hear more views from Singaporeans on the Health Ministry's review of health-care financing, among other things.

A public dialogue on health-care issues is being organised by REACH and the Health Ministry this Sunday (24 March), from 3pm to 4.30pm. It will be chaired by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Dr Khor.

Those interested in attending can e-mail to register and obtain details about the dialogue's venue.

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