SINGAPORE: Work pass holders who borrow from unlicensed moneylenders will be repatriated and barred from further employment in Singapore under planned new penalties.
This was announced in a joint press release from the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Oct 4).
"When a work pass holder has been found to have borrowed from unlicensed moneylenders, MOM will inform the employer and revoke the work pass," said the ministries. "The foreign worker will then be repatriated and debarred from further employment in Singapore."
Appeals by employers to retain their foreign worker will be considered on a case-by-case basis, it added.
The penalties will be implemented in 2019.
In addition, foreigners residing in Singapore will also have the amount they can borrow from licensed moneylenders restricted.
Aggregate loan caps for borrowing from licensed moneylenders - previously announced earlier this year - will be extended from Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) to all foreigners residing in Singapore.
The caps, which will be implemented in the fourth quarter of 2018, restrict the amount individuals can borrow.
The following loan caps will apply:
The two ministries said they had observed an increase in the number of foreigners borrowing from licensed moneylenders, from 7,500 in 2016 to 35,000 in the first half of 2018.
The police have also observed more foreigners residing in Singapore borrowing from unlicensed moneylenders, they said.
In addition, a previously announced self-exclusion framework will also be extended to foreign residents in Singapore.
The framework will prohibit licensed moneylenders from lending to those who have applied for self-exclusion, and will be implemented in 2019.
"This framework will help borrowers regulate their borrowing behaviour, and participate in debt assistance schemes which typically require self-exclusion," said the press release.
MOM and the police will also step up education efforts for foreign work pass holders on the risks of borrowing.
The borrower protections will apply to foreigners who are holders of Work Passes, Long Term Visit Passes, Short Term Visit Passes, Dependant’s Passes, and Student Passes.
They will not apply to foreigners with a temporary presence in Singapore, such as tourists.