, Singapore

Businesses struggle to cope with lack of foreign manpower: SBF

The Singapore Business Federation says the country should not completely close its borders to foreign workers.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has said that companies are struggling to cope with the loss of foreign manpower from last year.

In 2020 alone, non-resident employment decreased by 195,900, and travel restrictions have slowed the inflow of foreign workers to replace those who left.

“While we understand the need for some new restrictions to reduce the risks of importation of COVID-19 cases, we hope that the new restrictions on entry approvals will be relaxed as soon as the COVID-19 situation allows. In the interim, we hope that the list of lower risk countries/regions, for which the new restrictions do not apply, can be expanded to include other countries/regions with lower risks,” said the SBF in a press statement.

The lack of manpower has forced some businesses to close or scale down, affecting even Singaporean employees who may be displaced in the process.

SBF cited food & beverage, healthcare, electronics, manufacturing, retail, and logistics & transportation as the top sectors that are in dire need of more manpower.

“Without access to sufficient manpower, there will be serious impact on businesses, on our economy and on Singaporeans’ livelihoods, both in the immediate term and in the longer term,” the federation said.

As an example of an immediate term effect, the SBF cited the lack of people in the waste management, healthcare and transport sectors, which will degrade the delivery of essential services for Singaporeans. In the long term, the lack of foreign manpower will have a consequential impact on job creation and opportunities for Singaporeans.

“Insufficient manpower will also affect investors’ confidence in Singapore and Singapore’s competitiveness and attractiveness as a business destination. Should investors decide to exit Singapore as a result, this will mean job losses for Singaporeans,” the SBF added.

SBF CEO Lam Yi Young said that Singapore can not afford to completely close its borders to deny entry to all foreign workers.

“We must have in place a risk management framework for some foreigners to be able to come into Singapore, with the appropriate testing and quarantine regimes in place,” said Lam.

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