Sunday, April 15, 2007

Govt to further liberalise hiring of foreign construction workers

15 Apr 07
Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE: Rules on hiring foreign construction workers may be further liberalised to meet rising demand.

This is according to National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan who was speaking at the sidelines of a welcoming event for foreigners residing in Tampines.

From the Integrated Resorts to projects at the Marina Bay area and residential developments islandwide, there is no doubt the construction industry is experiencing a boom.

And due to the rise in construction projects, developers are also facing a labour shortage.

Minister Mah said: "This boom in construction coincides with a worldwide boom in construction. In China, Beijing, they're building for the Olympics. In the Middle East, they're rapidly building their various cities. It's happening in Europe as well.

"Ministry of Manpower has revised its rules to free up some of the foreign worker policies as well as some of the supervisory manpower policies to allow more of such personnel to come and work in Singapore." Mr Mah also expects wages to increase due to the tight labour market.

On the issue of the increasing cost of construction materials like sand and granite, he said prices would stabilise soon because these materials are already being imported from other countries besides Indonesia. The materials will be used for current projects as well as for stockpiling purposes.

He said: "We're talking about reopening the quarry in Pulau Ubin, not so much to make up for the shortage because there is ample supply coming, but really to keep our options open and to help us learn and understand how to restart the quarry."

Mr Mah added that over time, if there is more than sufficient supplies coming in as expected, there would be no further expansion of granite mining at Pulau Ubin.
- CNA/so

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