Singapore visa issue may impact future deals for IT cos: Nasscom

If things don't change, IT companies in Singapore will search for alternate locations.

The Dollar Business Bureau

On Sunday Nasscom said Singapore’s decision to block tech visas has limited the number of Indian IT professionals to less than 10,000 in the South East Asian nation that could also hamper future deals for the IT companies of the two nations.

Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said: “The number of Indian tech workers employed with various companies, are a few thousand now, probably under 10,000, which is inadequate to drive the growth of the industry," he told.

Singapore has for long acted as a gateway for the Indian IT firms to provide their services in the region. Many Indian tech giants, including HCL, Infosys, Wipro and TCS have set up their operations in Singapore.

"If things don't change, companies will have to look for alternate ways for the region...search for alternate locations," Chandrashekhar said.

India’s IT exports to Singapore have grown at a tremendous pace over the last few years. Even though the US and Europe account for more than 80% of the Indian IT industry's export revenues, the Indian IT sector has started to look out for major Asian markets including Singapore, Japan and Malaysia to enhance its exports revenue.

But with Singapore now adopting a rather conservative approach on issuing visa to Indian IT workers, these firms are facing difficultiesin maintaining their level of manpower, thus making it impractical to raise the professionals’ numbers.

"...Asia being the growth continent in this era, is the obvious place to look for. So that is why Singapore is a convenient base to operate from. In fact, some companies have started scaling down," Nasscom President detailed.

"You cannot maintain it because everytime a visa expires...you just leave and there is no visa renewal that is being issued. So this is where the problem has come up," he pointed out.

While Singapore has indicated banning of Indian tech visa for more than a year now, the industry body Nasscom has held several discussions with the Indian as well as Singaporean authorities to resolve the matter.

"This is really not keeping with the overall objectives of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which is to encourage economic activities in both directions," he said. 

 Singapore is one of India’s largest trade partners in ASEAN groups. India’s bilateral trade with Singapore was $15.02 billion in 2015-16, with Indian exports accounting for $7.71 billion.

Since India signed FTA with ASEAN in 2009, both India and Singapore have aimed to forge deeper trade and economic integration, even though their bilateral trade has witnessed a compressed growth due to the weak regional and global demand.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Apr 04, 2017 12:00 IST
 
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