Unable to get back to Singapore quickly, Indian nationals are now petitioning their government to go “talk” with the Singapore government to allow more of them entering Singapore as soon as possible.
[email protected] tweeted Indian PM Narendra Modi, “Lots of families are stranded in India and are not able to come back to Singapore despite holding the relevant visas. Could you please do something about this by holding talks (with the Singapore government)?”
Another, Shayonee, asked the Indian leadership if they have a plan with the Singapore government to let work permit holders from India back into Singapore.
“What’s the point of repatriating million of people back who have no jobs in India?” the person asked and complained that Singapore’s Manpower Ministry (MOM) has been “rejecting all approvals”.
Some wanted to bring their family members over to Singapore. Gautam Udhlani said that his company has tried many times to get entry approval to get his wife and kid to Singapore but were rejected.
Yet, another said his entry approval to enter Singapore was rejected more than 20 times.
Work pass holders need to obtain permission from MOM before entering Singapore
According to ICA website information, foreign Work Pass or In-Principle Approval (IPA) holders must obtain permission from the Manpower Ministry for entry into Singapore.
“Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s permission must be obtained by the employers or sponsors by submitting the request,” ICA said. “Those issued with LTVPs by ICA and have Letters of Consent or Pre-Approved Letter of Consent (LOC/PLOC) issued by MOM, will still need ICA’s approval of entry.”
“Holders of LTVPs issued by MOM such as common-law spouses, step-children, handicapped children or parents of an Employment Pass or S pass holder will have to obtain MOM’s approval for entry.”
Once permission is granted, they will be issued an approval letter of entry from ICA. They must produce this letter to airline staff upon check-in at the departure airport, and to the ICA officer at the checkpoint upon arrival in Singapore, ICA said.
It added that travellers who fail to comply with the requirements may have their passes cancelled and barred from entry into Singapore.
In addition, pass holders who have been to India within the last 14 days prior to entry are required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours before departure. They will need to present a valid negative COVID-19 test result as a condition of approval to enter Singapore. This requirement will apply on top of the existing requirements of a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated SHN facilities and a negative COVID-19 test before the end of their SHN.
Indian government has leverage over Singapore through CECA
Since the signing of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in 2005, India has allowed Singapore to invest billions of dollars into India.
In fact, it was reported in May this year that Singapore has emerged to be the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India for the second consecutive financial year, accounting for about 30 per cent of FDI inflows into India in 2019-20. That is to say, about a third of foreign investments into India comes from Singapore.
In the last financial year, India attracted US$14.67 billion of investments from Singapore according to data from India’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
Certainly, if relationship between the 2 countries turns sour, Singapore’s billions of dollars poured into India all these years would likewise be threatened. Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing would certainly not want that to happen.
Already in 2017, it was reported that India was not too happy with Singapore starting to restrict its IT professionals from working in Singapore. Some of the Indian IT companies affected include: HCL, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant and L&T Infotech.
“This (visa problem) has been lingering for a while but since early-2016, visas are down to a trickle. All Indian companies have received communication on fair consideration, which basically means hiring local people,” the president of Nasscom, the IT association of India, said.
In retaliation, the Indian government decided against expanding the scope of goods where import duties for Singapore goods would be cut unless the concerns of Indian industry are addressed, the report added.