FEWER applications for Singapore permanent residency (PR) will be approved this year, said Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng in Parliament yesterday.
In his response to a question by Nominated MP Paulin Tay Straughan on the number of PR applications in 2009 and this year, Mr Wong said the number "will be noticeably less than that in 2009".
He added that 132,200 applications were received by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority last year.
Of these, 115,900 applications were processed. Only 51 per cent - or 59,500 - were successful.
Most of these were from professionals who qualified under the Professional, Technical and Skilled Workers Scheme, said Mr Wong, who is also the Minister for Home Affairs.
This scheme requires potential PRs to work in Singapore under an Employment Pass. It assesses their tertiary and professional qualifications.
Others who were granted PR were their dependants or dependants of Singapore citizens.
He said: "We will continue to be stringent in our requirements for PR. PR will be granted to those of suitable quality, (who) are able to contribute to Singapore and integrate well into our society."
Mr Wong also noted the worries of Singaporeans, which he said can be heard "every day" through the news, dialogue sessions and at the grassroots level.
He added that the Government would "ensure that the number of PRs is not going to be significantly large and overwhelm the Singapore citizen population".
Still, Mr Wong emphasised the need to welcome immigrants in order to tackle Singapore's low birth rate.
"Unless there is a significant shift in attitudes towards marriage and parenthood, and we see improved birth rates, we will continue to need immigrants for Singapore to remain a vibrant and competitive economy," he said.
source: AsiaOne News