SINGAPORE May 28 Singapore's prime minister
said on Wednesday that the government will defer S$2 billion
($1.59 billion) worth of public construction projects in order
to reduce demand for foreign workers in the city-state.
An influx of low-wage workers from overseas has caused
growing resentment among citizens of the small city-state, riled
by the strains that a rapidly growing population have posed on
its infrastructure and services.
The population expanded by 35 percent from 4.0 million to
5.4 million between 2000 and 2013.
Lee Hsien Long's government has responded by raising levies
companies have to pay in order to bring in low-wage construction
workers. Lee said in parliament that they would continue to
limit the inflow of foreign labour, despite the difficulties
such curbs cause to small and medium-sized businesses.
"We cannot ease up on the foreign worker limits," he said.
Lee added that the government will now delay certain
construction projects in order to further reduce the need for
Projects which are urgent such as new public housing and the
expansion of its rail network will continue, but projects such
as building new government ministry buildings and the
construction of a new science centre will be delayed.
"These are necessary trade-offs and I hope Singaporeans will
understand," Lee said.
($1 = 1.2563 Singapore Dollars)
(Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Kim Coghill)