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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 28 January 2007

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About 200,000 new Singapore PRs in the next 5 years


Written Answer to Parliamentary Question on projection of immigration for the next 5 years

Ms Sylvia Lim:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs if he will provide a projection, for the next 5 years, of the number of additional foreigners the Government intends to add to the resident population of Singapore and for which skill sector or industries.
Mr Wong Kan Seng:
Projection on immigration
From 2001-2004, an average of 35,250 new permanent residents (PR) and 7,130 new Singapore citizens (SC) were granted per annum. In 2005, about 52,300 new PRs and 12,900 new SCs were granted.
The average numbers of new PRs and SCs are 38,700 and 8,300 respectively, for the period 2001-2005. We could expect to add about 200,000 new PRs and 40,000 new SCs in the next 5 years if we get the same numbers of new PRs and SCs as in the last 5 years.
Profile of immigrants
Many new PRs and SCs in Singapore were employment pass holders, usually graduates or diploma-holders who are skilled professionals or managers working in our strategic economic sectors such as the finance, biomedical sciences and creative industries.
Beyond education qualifications, we also look for those with relevant experience and/or specific skills that can add vibrancy and diversity, and meet the needs of our economy. As the nature and needs of our economy change, we will adjust our requirements accordingly to ensure that new PRs and SCs fit the relevant profile.
Competition for talented migrants
Singapore is not the only country grappling with population issues. Many countries are seeking suitable migrants to augment their population. For example, the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong have programmes in place to target and attract suitable immigrants.
Even Japan, traditionally a homogenous society, has begun to open its doors to non-ethnic Japanese immigrants. It was recently reported that there are more than two million such immigrants who are Japanese citizens today.
The conclusion from this is clear C many countries are facing demographic challenges which will affect their economic vitality and viability if they are unable to augment their population and workforce. Immigration is a necessary and critical strategy in this regard.
Rationale for encouraging immigration
Our birth rate has been falling. In 2004 and 2005, we only had 1.25 babies born per woman, i.e. a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 1.25. This is way below the 2.1 level needed to replace ourselves. Falling birth rates is a common phenomenon among many other countries.
Since 2004, we have put in place a comprehensive marriage and parenthood package to encourage more resident births. Nevertheless, it would require an attitudinal change towards a more pro-family mindset among Singaporeans.
It is unlikely that we will be able to reach the TFR of 2.1 to replace ourselves. This is why our approach to augmenting our population is three-pronged: encourage more Singaporeans to get married and have more babies; keep our overseas-based Singaporeans connected and committed to Singapore; and top up our population and workforce with suitable immigrants.
Singapore must and will continue to welcome immigrants who can identify with our way of life and whose diverse talents can contribute to the vibrancy and viability of our country.
The Government will monitor our population growth closely to ensure that the quality of life and well-being of Singaporeans will not be compromised as ourpopulation grows through careful urban planning and development.

Source: News Release 22 Jan 2007

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