Runaway growth clears the way for more foreign workersWere the people of Nandigram and Singur backward in resisting economicdevelopment? Even ultra-modern Singapore is disenchanted with what it now calls“growth at any price”, but can’t put the genie back in the bottle as the economycontinues to swing from boom to bust, bust to boom.After last year’s recession, when output fell 1.3 per cent, the economy is growingfaster than ever. The government now says the economy will grow an astounding13 to 15 per cent this year, almost twice as much as expected only two months ago.Only Qatar is expected to grow faster, reported Bloomberg, quoting theInternational Monetary Fund. The news was splashed across the front page of TheStraits Times. Below it ran another story about the consequence of this boom: morethan 100,000 foreign workers are set to enter Singapore this year. That is the cause of the mixed feelings about rapid economic development inSingapore. The country is overrun by foreigners, complain Singaporeans, grumblingabout overcrowding, rising property prices and wages depressed by foreigncompetition. Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said a small island likeSingapore can’t go on admitting so many foreigners. The catchphrase now is“sustainable development” after years of rapid economic growth, which alsoincluded three recessions since 1998.But with the economy growing faster than expected and unemployment down to 2.2per cent, there is no alternative to more foreign workers. “If we don’t allow theforeign workers in, you are going to have overheating,” said PM Lee. Wages willspiral out of control if there is a manpower shortage, chasing business away.One reason for the runaway growth is Singapore’s export-oriented economy.Healthy global trade flows are pushing the economy forward just as Singapore wasthe first country in Asia to slide into recession in October 2008, a month after theWall Street meltdown.Singapore’s dependence on foreign markets is not limited to merchandise trade.Are you a Bharti Airtel subscriber? Do you have an account in ICICI Bank? Yourpatronage is appreciated by stockholders in Singapore.SingTel, the Singapore telco, is Bharti’s single largest shareholder. And SingTel ismajority-owned by the Singapore state investment firm, Temasek Holdings, whichalso has a stake in ICICI Bank. So India’s biggest private-sector bank and largestcellular service provider are both partly owned by Singapore companies. Bharticontributed S$245 million (more than Rs 8316 million) in pre-tax profits, reportedSingTel, between January and March this year when SingTel’s net profits, fromoperations in Singapore, Australia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesiaand the Philippines, rose to S$1.02 billion.