Sunday, 17 August 2008

WPQ 21 July 2008: Issuance of Employment Passes, S Passes, Dependant's Passes and Long Term Social Visit Passes

I filed this question in a continuing quest to -- in the absence of any freedom of information legislation in Singapore -- get into the public domain statistics that I am interested in, which the Government may not otherwise release. Immigration statistics are one such area.

Comparing this reply with a previously asked WPQ, it seems that there may be over 600,000 work permit holders (i.e. semi-skilled and unskilled foreign workers) in Singapore. What would be even more interesting, would be the breakdown between EP and S Pass holders -- something that the Government declines to provide.

[Update: upon further reflection, this 600,000 figure is almost certainly incorrect -- the EP and S Pass figures below reflect the passes that are issued annually, whereas the 756,000 figure cited in the previously asked WPQ is a cumulative figure.]


WPQ

ISSUANCE OF EMPLOYMENT PASSES, S PASSES, DEPENDANT’S PASSES AND LONG TERM SOCIAL VISIT PASSES
(Statistics)

Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower for each of the past 5 years (a) how many Employment Passes and S Passes have been issued; (b) how many Dependant’s Passes have been issued to dependants of Employment Pass and S Pass holders; (c) how many Long Term Social Visit Passes have been issued; (d) wh at is the average duration of the Long Term Social Visit Passes issued; and (e) how many Long Term Social Visit Pass holders have been issued with work passes.

Mr Gan Kim Yong: See Table below for the detailed statistics.


Year2004200520062007
Number of Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders80,00090,000110,000143,000
Number of dependants of EP and S pass holders on Dependant Pass/Long Term Social Visit Pass53,00059,00060,00069,000
Number of Long Term Social Visit Passes issued51,00058,00062,00064,000


The stock of Employment Passes (EP) and S Passes has generally increased in the last few years in tandem with the robust economic growth and job creation. As of December 2007, there were about 143,000 EP and S Pass holders.

Foreigners on EP and selected S passes may apply for Dependant Passes or Long Term Social Visit Passes for their dependants, such as spouses and children below 21 years of age. As of December 2007, there were about 69,000 dependants on Dependant Passes or Long Term Social Visit Passes.

Long Term Social Visit Passes are also issued to other groups of foreigners such as family members of Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. In 2007, there were about 64,000 Long Term Social Visit Passes issued. Long Term Social Visit Passes can be issued for up to 5 years.

Long Term Social Visit Pass holders and Dependant Pass holders must apply for work passes to work in Singapore. The number of these pass holders working in Singapore is not high. As of December 2007, there were about 6,600 Long Term Social Visit Pass holders and Dependant Pass holders with work passes.

2 comments:

Chee Wai Lee said...

Sir,

Thank you for getting those numbers from MOM. The question of immigration figures did pique my interest at one point and I consulted the following from the singstats site:

http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/themes/people/hist/popn.html

At least now the numbers make sense to me. According to the Singstats figures, there should be 1.005 million foreigners (non-PRs) living in Singapore in 2007. With the dependant passes issued at around 241,000 and 756,000 work passes, it all adds up to the ballpark figure.

Please continue to try to encourage our government to be more transparent as the "right thing to do". I think it is fairly obvious when information is used for nefarious purposes. For the most part, such things are the result of curiosity and academic discourse.

In my case, we were talking about population and population growth in various countries. When Singapore came up, I simply mouthed the magic 4.5 million number ... and then realized it seemed to have grown a whole lot from what it used to be (seemed like not too long ago it was just 3.5 million). This prompted me to check up with Singapore's statistics bureau to see how it has grown. It appears our growth as citizens and PRs appear fairly even. It is the influx of foreigners that dominated recent growth.

This leads me to the next thought: Should we offer or encourage citizenship to a good portion of these people? We have, afterall, more than 20% of our population as foreigners. Shouldn't that mean that approximately 20-25% of our economic engine is actually being borne by these people? Or is the work performed by them sufficiently flexible enough to be delegated to a transient population?

I think the above are reasonably serious questions, for if the international labour market dries up, it seems Singapore would suffer for it.

I know immigration and jobs can be and has been a sensitive issue. However, I think that if the government can be more transparent, I think it would be easier to explain to people just why we need more people to flow into the country and why they are not simply here to "steal our jobs" as too many Singaporeans have accused them of doing.

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