Immigration Bonus for Singaporeans

An Immigration Bonus for Singaporeans? -
Making the Foreigner More Acceptable
 By Yolanda Chin, Nadica Pavlovska and Norman Vasu       
In order to make Singaporeans more receptive to foreigners, it may be worth considering making the benefits of their presence more tangible to Singaporeans through an “Immigration Bonus” for citizens from a revenue pool of immigrant labour levies.

Read the rest of it [here]


NTU assembled a team to look into recent symptoms of xenophobic sentiments. It seems apparent the issue is real and fast growing into potential problems that affect Singapore from moving forward with the government's immigration policies. It is good to know the government is paying due recognition to this issue instead of brushing it away as noise. 

The solution proposed by the research team is straightforward - to make Singaporeans appreciate foreigners by introducing an 'Immigration Bonus'. This is to serve as an important signal to Singaporeans that their fortunes are intertwined. The more immigrants Singapore takes in, the more "Immigrant Bonus" each Singaporean will receive. Singaporeans will thereafter see the tangible side of the influx of foreigners and accept foreigners. That's the plan in briefs.

Before Singaporeans start celebrating, we have to note that the study emphasized that the amount of "Immigration Bonus" will be nowhere as much as the normal GST Bonus we receive from time to time. This is due to the fact that the revenue for "Immigration Bonus" is derived from the levies collected for Work Permit and S Pass Holders as well as other new related levies that may be implemented for each employer who hires a foreigner. Though the bonus will be a small fraction of the GST bonuses, the research team reckoned the symbolic value of the hand out is the key.

Like how the Carbon Tax introduced in Australia will please the environmentalists and not necessarily anyone else, this initiative will please some but not all. Having said that no policy is aimed to please everyone. If this can potentially get a group of Singaporeans to raise their thumbs at immigration policies, the government will deem it worth trying. 

If it happens, take the bonus and place it in a safe corner your pillow. You will not miss out much, given the meagre interests that banks offer these days. The smell of this cold hard crispy notes will remind you every night this money comes from. It comes from your physical discomfort of the growing population density, less space being allocated to each Singaporean for relaxation. Free space will be a rare commodity. The value of land will rocket. Landlords will increase rental in tandem. Businesses will pass the cost back to consumers like you and me by increasing the price of their products and services. 

It comes from the increased competition in the job market, where it is harder to convince the Singaporean boss to hire you. You need to justify your merits and cost in each interview. The foreigner needs only to justify his merits. Common sense tells us which is the easier task to do. The Singaporean will need to learn how to sell himself better in future.

It comes from levies. Levies come from employers. Thinking along the Singapore government's line, Where is the money going to come from? Where are employers going to pay the levies from? From the company's profits? From the employees' pay increment in the following year? 

It comes from employers charging their clients more. Take a case study of a Singaporean buying a HDB flat. HDB will tender the project. All contractors in the building industry hire foreign workers. They would have factored in the cost of foreign levies in their total project cost just like any other overheads. The building cost of each HDB flat will therefore increase. Guess who pays for it?

To me, we should not monetise immigration issues. Period.

Even if we really have to, we should pick an avenue which makes sense. The idea of imposing levies on employers do not work so long as they could regard levies as part of the running cost of business and pass it back to the consumers. If we have to insist on implement the idea of "Immigration Bonus", the levies should come out of the foreigners' pocket and not the employers' in the form of higher income tax. It is apparent that isn't going to happen. So remember to leave your "Immigration Bonus" in the corner of your pillow. Every night, smell it long and hard and think about how much you have to pay this scent of cash.


  1. Nonsense. This is like trying to bribe Singaporeans. Papa give you some sweets so don't cry ok? When children cry and throw tantrums, this is what we do.

  2. What a great early morning read! This is a great idea in principle. I am sure alot of research has gone in to it. Yolanda Chin, Nadica Pavlovska and Norman Vasu have obvious cracked their heads to come up with this unique take.

    What do I think about it?

    In principle, I think it makes sense - in a equitable sense at least. My only concern is in the implementation and execution that is difficult to conceive. Also there are issues relating to how wise is for natives to profit from immigration directly. Isn't that a form of state hand out?

    I want to be clear and not beat around the bush. I don't believe in charity. I believe in empowering people with the idea of dignity of labor.

    Nonetheless it is still early days and such explorations are always good. I don't see any downsides here at all. Just maybe some niggling technical issues.

    Thank you very much for having me here in this forum.

    Darkness 2012

    1. Thanks for commenting here Darkness 2012.

      If you ask me, whether or not they implement this, the foreigners will march in. Given a choice, I'll take it than leave it.

    2. I disagree. "Given A Choice"... what does that mean?
      Choice A: Take bonus and allow foreigners to swamp us.
      Choice B: No bonus, and foreigners intake is curbed.

      If given a choice, I'd take Choice B.

    3. Unfortunately, there isn't a Choice B.

      Choice 1: Take bonus and act happy while foreigners come
      Choice 2: No bonus. Foreigners come.

  3. I find this idea an utter piece of trash.

    It does not, as with many current PAP policies, attempt to address the problem at it roots.

    It is also a very lazy idea to throw money at people to placate them. It fails to consider basic issues such as the source of the money, as you've mentioned. It cannot help address the situation and would only worsen it and make it more complicated.

  4. I give a middle finger salute to this immigration bonus idea.
    Instead of solving the root causes, it just tries to buy us off with miserable few cents.

    1. Agree.

      As mentioned in the article, "the study emphasized that the amount of "Immigration Bonus" will be nowhere as much as the normal GST Bonus", meaning it will be less than the GST bonus of S$250/year (approx. $20/month or less than a dollar per day).

      Knn... because of the ease of employing foreigners, the salaries of locals have been severely depressed. I rather they kick out all these foreigners so that our salaries will go up much more, rather than the miserable less than a dollar a day. Knn...

  5. When I read about this news on during my travels some days back, the first thought that came into my mind is that it smell so full of the typical PAP style solution stench: Throw money out and try to bribe the population.

    Definitely a disgusting solution but what Nix and Darkness said is true, we are not going to change the whole situation short of changing the government, I'm going to take it and use the money to plan for my way out, just like what I have been doing with my GST credits, IPPT money etc. I'm going to milk this heartless government as best as I could, just like how they milk me over the years before I'm going to give them the middle finger.