Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from CNA

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong rehashed his commitment to create jobs for India graduates by signing an upgraded version of the CECA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) agreement with India. The CECA agreement will allow cheap foreign labour working from the professional Information Technology (IT) sector to the unskilled cleaning sector.

You may read the full list of affected industries here.

The move come a month after Lee Hsien Loong promised to create 1,920 jobs for Filipinos in Singapore.

Also established in the renewed 2018 CECA is the recognition of India nursing certificates. When it comes to employment, Singaporean Registered Nurses (RN) with nursing diplomas will now have similar standing to that of Indian nursing qualifications. The move will likely depress the wages of registered nurses in Singapore further, which is currently at an average of about S$2,300 in take-home pay.

In addition to the depression of salaries, Indian professionals has a poor international reputation due to the number of fake qualifications. Both the private and public sector were found to be duped by these fake qualifications holders. In 2015, Singapore government statutory board Information Development Authority (IDA) was found to have hired an Indian national who put up qualifications bought from degree mills. Some foreigners posted fake qualifications of universities where they were never a graduate of.

Just a year ago in April 2017, two India, one Vietnam and one Philippines nationals were sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail in Singapore for presenting fake qualifications. The Ministry of Manpower revealed that in 2016, a total of 73 foreigners were convicted for presenting fake qualifications.

The move to import cheap foreign labour is to shore up the population to 6.9 million by 2030, as earlier planned by PM Lee Hsien Loong in his population white paper.

Singapore’s unemployment rate is currently at 3%, while the unemployment rate of fresh graduates is reported to be as high as 21.6%.