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Written Answer to PQ on measures to curb borrowing by migrant domestic workers and to teach them prudent financial management


MP: Mr Seah Kian Peng

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether there is an increasing trend of borrowing by migrant domestic workers (MDWs) from licensed and unlicensed moneylenders; (b) whether new measures to curb borrowing by MDWs will be considered; and (c) how can the Government work with employers, non-governmental organisations and employment agencies to better educate MDWs, especially new MDWs, on prudent financial management and the risks and implications of borrowing money.


The number of Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) borrowing from licensed moneylenders (LMLs) has increased but remains low at about 150 borrowers per year from 2020 to 2022. On the unlicensed moneylending situation, based on harassment reports involving MDWs borrowing from unlicensed moneylenders (UMLs), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) estimates the number of MDW borrowers to be in the hundreds and that it has been increasing over the past three years.

2. The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) has implemented measures over the years to curb borrowing from LMLs by foreigners, including MDWs. This includes restrictions on the supply of loan by LMLs, aggregate loan caps, a self-exclusion framework, as well as restrictions on LMLs’ advertising practices that prohibit targeted advertisements at vulnerable groups such as MDWs.

3. On the UML front, SPF continues to take a tough stance. In 2022, SPF conducted 12 major enforcement operations and investigated a total of 1,391 persons involved in UML activities. SPF also partners relevant stakeholders to combat UML activities. For example, SPF works with banks to report suspicious transactions, including those related to UML activities. If the MDW is found to have borrowed from UMLs, her employer would be informed. The MDW’s work pass is liable to be revoked and she will be barred from further employment in Singapore.

4. To complement enforcement, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the SPF have been working closely with the various stakeholders to educate migrant workers, including MDWs, on prudent financial management practices and the risks and implications of borrowing money. This is done through channels such as the mandatory Settling-In-Programme for all first-time MDWs, guidebooks and regular newsletters, where MDWs are taught basic money management and advised to consult their employers or employment agencies if they need money on short notice, rather than borrow from moneylenders. Similarly, employers are educated during the Employer Orientation Programme and via regular newsletters to advise their MDWs to stay away from UMLs. MOM also collaborates with Non-Governmental Organisations, such as Aidha and the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), to conduct financial education and literacy courses for MDWs.

5. MOM, MinLaw, and SPF will continue to monitor the situation closely and will work with the various stakeholders to step up efforts as necessary.