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Singapore population tops five million, 36 pct foreigners

SINGAPORE, Tuesday 31 August 2010 (AFP) - Singapore's population crossed five million this year and more than a third of the total are foreigners, the statistics department said Tuesday.

The city-state's total population stood at 5.08 million people at the end of June, it said in a statement.

Of the number, 3.23 million are citizens, 540,000 are foreigners with permanent residency and 1.3 million are foreign professionals and workers along with their dependents, resulting in a 36% share for foreigners in the general population.

The population growth rate was 1.8% in 2010, reflecting a slowdown in the number of permanent residents and foreign workers being admitted into the country, the department said.

The number of permanent residents rose by 1.5%, down from at least 6% growth per year between 2005 and 2009, it said.

Growth in the number of non-residents, or those on professional employment passes and shorter-term work permits, slowed to 4.1%, off from peaks of 15% in 2007 and 19% in 2008, it added.

Because Singaporeans have not been producing enough babies, the government had for years rolled out the welcome mat for foreigners, whose numbers rose drastically during the economic boom from 2004 to 2007.

But after the 2008 global financial crisis, the government has taken a fresh look at its open-door policy following complaints from citizens that foreigners are competing for jobs, housing and medical care.

Singapore, which polls well in global surveys for quality of life, is also showing symptoms of urban stress, with rush-hour traffic gridlock, packed subway trains and recent cases of flash floods in some areas.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged the problems in a speech on Sunday and vowed to review immigration policies, cap new foreign hiring this year and enhance benefits accorded to citizens.

MySinchew 2010.08.31

 

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