Singapore on track for 'more sustainable' population growth: PMO

Channel NewsAsia 10 Mar 15;

SINGAPORE: The Republic remains on track for "slower and more sustainable" population growth, with the overall growth rate of 1.3 per cent in 2014 the slowest in the past 10 years.

This is in line with what was proposed in the Population White Paper and a result of concrete measures taken to moderate foreign workforce growth said Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, speaking at the Committee of Supply 2015 debate on Tuesday (Mar 10).

She added that the size of the Permanent Resident population in Singapore has "stabilised" over the past two years, falling slightly from 531,000 in 2013 to 528,000 last year.

She also said the Government has taken a calibrated approach when it came to issuing citizenships and permanent residences status. Last year, 20,348 Singaporean Citizenships and 29,854 new Permanent Residences were granted.

In the same year, citizen births rose to around 33,000, about 2,000 more than in 2013, with the Total Fertility Rate increasing to 1.25 from 1.19 over the same period. There were about 24,000 marriages involving at least one citizen in 2014 - the highest since 1997, she said.

"The size of our Permanent Resident population has stabilised, and in fact fallen slightly in the last two years. Overall, our immigrants help to prevent our citizen population from shrinking," said Ms Fu, who is also the Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and for Foreign Affairs.

Within the citizen population, the median age increased to 40.4 years, while the proportion of those aged 65 and above rose to 12.4 per cent, up from 11.7 per cent in June 2013.

"In all, we remain committed to our goal of a sustainable population, to ensure that Singapore remains a good home for Singaporeans of all ages to live, work and play."

Even as the Government continues to build up the Singaporean core in the workforce, Ms Fu emphasised that it is important for the country to remain open to foreigners.

"Foreigners help to plug gaps that cannot be filled by Singaporeans, provide expertise and ideas to kickstart new sectors, and transfer skills that enrich our local workforce and businesses," she said.

Ms Fu added: "For example, research and development in Singapore has benefited from the experience and expertise from around the world, and has resulted in several breakthroughs such as more effective treatment of tuberculosis and underwater robotics. The result is a more flexible and competitive workforce which is responsive to the shifting global business environment."

- CNA/es/xk