For the first time as far as anyone in TWC2 can remember, the government has revealed how much it collects each year in foreign worker levies. Every employer who hires a foreign worker in Singapore has to pay a monthly levy based on a prevailing scale of charges.

To a parliamentary question by Gan Thiam Poh (PAP: Pasir Ris-Punggol), Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, provided a written answer on 14 January 2013:

Foreign Worker Levies Collection

Notice Paper No. 369 Of 2012 For The Sitting On 12 Nov 2012.
Question No. 336 For Written Answer.

MP: Mr Gan Thiam Poh


To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower (a) what are the amounts of foreign worker levies collected and workfare income supplement disbursed respectively for the past two years; and (b) whether the
foreign worker levies have funded the workfare income supplement to benefit Singaporean workers.


The total foreign worker levies collected were S$2.5 billion for the Financial Year 2011 and S$1.9 billion for the Financial Year 2010. Similar to other sources of Government revenue, the foreign worker
levies are not ringfenced for any specific purposes. All Government revenue collected would go into the Consolidated Fund used to fund Government expenditures in general. This includes the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme which the Government introduced in 2007 to supplement the income and CPF savings of older low-wage workers while encouraging work. For work done in 2010 and 2011, about S$400 million has been given out in WIS for each work year.

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total_govt_revenue_2011In Fiscal Year 2011, the total operating revenue for the government was S$51 billion. Click thumbnail at left for data from the Department of Statistics. Thus, foreign worker levies made up about 5% of total operating revenue.