Singapore wants to boost population to 6.9 million by 2030

A commuter makes her way past other commuters as she disembarks from a train during the morning peak hour in Singapore January 29, 2013. Singapore's population is projected to reach 6.5 to 6.9 million by 2030, according to a government White Paper released on Tuesday. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian financial center Singapore, which is already more densely populated than rival Hong Kong, wants to raise its population by as much as 30 percent in the next two decades to ensure its economy remains dynamic, the government said on Tuesday.

The growth in the population to between 6.5 and 6.9 million by 2030 - from 5.3 million now - would involve persuading citizens to have more babies and handing out citizenship to more foreign-born professionals, the government said in a white paper.

“Many Asian cities are modernising rapidly, and catching up on us,” the government said.

“Singapore must continue to develop and upgrade to remain a key node in the network of global cities, a vibrant place where jobs and opportunities are created.”

The publication of the white paper comes just days after Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) lost heavily in a by-election amid growing public unhappiness about high property prices and competition for jobs which they blamed on the government’s liberal immigration policies.

Singapore has a land area of just 714 square kilometres, which is less than half the size of London, and a population of 5.3 million people. Foreigners account for just less than 40 percent of the population, up from about 25 percent in 2000.

Hong Kong has a population of 7.1 million and a land area of 1,104 square kilometres, according to figures a government web site.

Reporting by Kevin Lim; Editing by Robert Birsel