Singapore Foreigner Population Growth Quickens to 4-Year High

The number of foreigners in Singapore rose at the fastest pace in four years even as the city-state tightened its immigration policy, a government report showed.

Foreigners or so-called non-residents, which exclude permanent residents, rose 7.2 percent in the 12 months through June, the quickest since 2008, when they increased by almost a fifth, the Statistics Department said today. The number of permanent residents rose 0.2 percent after a 1.7 percent decline in the previous period.

The Southeast Asian nation of 5.3 million, which occupies an area about half the size of Houston, has added about 1 million people since the beginning of 2005 as the government allowed more immigration to make up for a declining birth rate. The influx contributed to crowded transportation and more competition for jobs, housing and places in schools, fueling voter anger that led to the ruling party’s smallest electoral win last year since independence in 1965.

Growth in the number of non-residents this year was still “significantly lower” than the peaks of 15 percent in 2007 and 19 percent in 2008, according to the report. The city added 99,800 foreigners in the past year, and 1,100 permanent residents, the report showed.

Foreigners and permanent residents make up more than a third of the island’s population, and of the 122,600 jobs created in Singapore last year, about 70 percent went to workers from overseas. The island will continue to take in foreigners at a “comfortable” pace, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said this week.

Singapore rejected more foreigner job permit applications and renewed fewer existing ones in the first seven months of 2012, Tan Chuan-Jin, acting minister for manpower, said in Parliament on Sept. 11. It also granted fewer permanent resident permits on average in 2010 compared with the annual rate from 2004 to 2008, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a written reply to a parliamentary question this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sharon Chen in Singapore at schen462@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

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