Migrant workers from India will be brought into Singapore on a “small scale” and in a “calibrated manner” this month through a pilot programme led by the construction, marine and process (CMP) sectors, according to a media report here on Wednesday.
If successful, this method will be used to facilitate a steady inflow of migrant workers in a safe and secure manner, The Straits Times reported, quoting a joint statement by the Singapore Contractors Association, Association of Singapore Marine Industries and Association of Process Industry.
The move comes after zero incidences of COVID-19 in the first few batches of workers entering from Malaysia under the pilot project, according to the statement.
“We will continue to carry this (the pilot) out on a small scale and in a calibrated manner to better manage the risks involved and validate the robustness of the tightened end-to-end process,” the trade bodies said.
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Since the coronavirus outbreak, the CMP sectors have been severely affected by restrictions on the inflow of migrant workers.
Currently, those who have recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India are not allowed to enter Singapore under enhanced border restrictions.
In May, the Ministry of Manpower stopped accepting new entry applications for work pass holders from higher-risk countries or regions due to COVID-19, except for workers needed in key strategic projects and infrastructural works.
Work pass holders from these countries who were approved to enter Singapore before July 5 were no longer allowed to do so, with some exceptions, said the daily.
Last month, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said more migrant workers and foreign domestic helpers will soon be allowed to enter Singapore to work, to ease the “immense pressures” faced by companies since the start of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the trade associations said the CMP sectors play an essential role in Singapore’s development.
“Companies in the CMP sectors contribute to the development of public infrastructure and private properties, construction and maintenance of vessels and offshore energy infrastructures,” they said.
These “support the ocean economy and plant engineering services to enable Singapore to be recognised globally as a leading maritime, energy and chemicals hub”, they said.
Since the end-2019, the number of work permit holders in these sectors has declined by more than 15 per cent or 60,000.
“This has resulted in project delays and significant labour cost increase, which in turn affect the viability of businesses,” they said.
The coronavirus has so far killed 36 people along with 62,640 confirmed cases in Singapore, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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