The Economic Times reported that India and Singapore are on the verge of signing a “mutual recognition agreement” that will make it easier for Indian nurses to work in Singapore.

Apparently (‘India-Singapore to sign a pact for movement of nurses‘), “India and Singapore are making progress in signing mutual recognition agreement for para-medical courses that will make it easier for domestically trained nurses to get work” in Singapore.

“Our nurses are highly sought after… we have made some progress in Singapore and soon we should have some kind of movement of nurses (to Singapore),” Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry J S Deepak told Indian reporters.

While India and Singapore have reduced customs duty on goods since the implementation of the free trade agreement in 2005, they are yet to sign the mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) that honour each other’s educational and professional qualifications, The Economic Times said.

Once an agreement is signed, degrees and certificates given by Indian institutions would be valid in Singapore.

ESM Goh started “India fever”

The warm relationship between India and Singapore actually started in the 1990s when Goh Chok Tong, then PM of Singapore, initiated a “mild India fever” with the aim of establishing deeper ties with India.

Following the warming of ties, a free trade agreement – the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) – between India and Singapore was later negotiated and signed on 29 June 2005 during PM Lee Hsien Loong’s state visit to India. This landmark agreement is India’s first ever CECA and Singapore’s first comprehensive bilateral economic agreement with a South Asia economy.

Under CECA, there is a section that talks about MRAs [Link], which will facilitate the freer movement of professionals across the 2 countries.

MRAs will provide means to recognize each other’s education and professional qualifications. Indian and Singaporean PMETs in the stated professions (including nursing) will be able to practise in the respective countries, meaning that Indian nurses can work in Singapore and vice versa:

Other professions are “encouraged to enter into negotiations for MRAs”, according to CECA.

It is not known how many Singaporean PMETs are willing to work in India given that S$1 is about 50 rupees but certainly, there will be no shortage of Indian professionals willing to come to Singapore.

Indeed, there are currently about 200,000 Indian nationals in Singapore, working in IT, finance, scientific research and other industries – including laundry services where an Indian “foreign talent” was caught last year using a fake university degree to obtain an S-Pass to work as an assistant manager illegally. He reportedly drew a salary of S$2,000 per month (‘Indian FT uses fake BA degree to work as assistant manager‘).

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