Higher foreign worker levy rebates as COVID-19 measures tighten labour supply

Higher foreign worker levy rebates as COVID-19 measures tighten labour supply

Singapore migrant workers 3
A migrant worker looks on in a construction site in Singapore on Aug 20, 2020. (AFP/Roslan RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: Companies in the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sectors facing a labour crunch and increased costs because of COVID-19 restrictions will get some reprieve in the coming months.

Around 15,000 such firms will see an increase in foreign worker levy rebates from May to December, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on Saturday (May 8). The rebate for each work permit holder in the CMP sectors will go up from S$90 per month to S$250 per month.

"The tighter border restrictions and stricter Safe Management Measures due to COVID-19 have resulted in significant manpower shortages and increased costs for the CMP sectors," said MOM. It added that the number of work permit holders in these sectors fell by nearly 60,000, or 16 per cent, last year.

READ: Companies seek alternatives as workers from India, Bangladesh dwindle

The first round of the increased rebate in May will be paid out in June.

"Employers can consider making use of the FWL (foreign worker levy) rebate to retain existing workers and bring in Work Permit Holders from lower-risk countries or regions," said MOM, adding that a decision will be made closer to the end of the year if this rebate would be extended beyond December.

The original rebate of S$90 per work permit holder in the CMP sectors has been in place since August last year. 

READ: Up to S$920m set aside to extend foreign worker levy rebate for construction, marine shipyard, process sectors

"The CMP sectors play an essential role in Singapore's development, and Government agencies are working closely with the CMP sectors through the Industry Transformation Maps to transform their businesses and reduce manpower reliance to become more resilient to future shocks," said MOM on Saturday.

"However, these efforts will take time to bear fruit. In the immediate term, the increased costs continue to weigh heavily on these firms."

On Friday, the ministry said new entry applications for work pass holders from higher-risk countries and regions would no longer be accepted with immediate effect. However the new restriction excludes workers needed for key strategic projects and infrastructural works.

Higher-risk countries and regions refer to all places except Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. 

Singapore has stopped entry for all long-term pass holders, short-term visitors with recent travel history to India, which is battling a COVID-19 crisis. That entry ban, which began on Apr 24, was expanded to include visitors with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram 

Source: CNA/ac

Bookmark