Oral Answer by Ms Low Yen Ling Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower on FDW Money Lending Activites
NOTICE PAPER NO. 1797 OF 2019 FOR THE SITTING ON 3 SEPTEMBER 2019
QUESTION NO. 3058 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) for each year in the past five years, among foreign domestic workers (FDWs) found to have borrowed money from licensed moneylenders, what is the median number of months between their first arrival in Singapore and the first loan they take; and (b) whether the Ministry can provide an update on whether a study has been conducted on this issue, and, if so what are the top three reasons for the sharp rise in the number of FDWs borrowing from licensed moneylenders.
- Based on available loan records from the Moneylenders Credit Bureau, which was set up in 2016, the median number of years between the foreign domestic workers’ first arrival in Singapore to the time they took their first loan in 2016 is 8 years. For those who took up their first loan in 2017 and 2018, it is 7 years and 6 years respectively. This means that the majority of FDW borrowers have worked in Singapore for some time.
- The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Law (MinLaw) have studied the reasons for the surge in foreign domestic worker (FDW) borrowers in recent years. First, it was observed that some licensed moneylenders (LMLs) have been targeting FDWs through shopfront advertisements, and readily extending loans to them. Second, some FDWs have been recommending loans to their fellow FDWs by word-of-mouth. Third, there are more FDWs acting as guarantors for fellow FDWs to obtain loans.
- To curb the rise in borrowing by work pass holders, MOM and MinLaw had announced in October 2018 the introduction of aggregate loan caps, the self-exclusion framework, and administrative penalties on work pass holders who borrow from unlicensed moneylenders. In July 2019, MinLaw announced further measures to stem the increase in moneylending activities targeting work pass holders. The aggregate loan cap for foreigners earning less than $10,000 per annum was reduced and limits were placed on the supply of loans to foreigners. LMLs are also prohibited from displaying advertisements targeted at FDWs, and from accepting foreigners as loan guarantors.
- MOM and MinLaw are continuing to monitor the situation closely, and are working closely with employers, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and employment agencies to educate FDWs on prudent financial management and the risks and implications of borrowing money.