Already battling the onslaught of the change in H-1B Visa norms in the US, Indian techies and firms are bracing for another setback, all thanks to Singapore government’s decision to restrict access to Indian professionals employed in the sector.
Industry body Nasscom feels that the clamp down on tech visas by Singapore has shrunk the base of Indian techies to under 10,000 in the South East Asian nation.
Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar said that the decision may also hurt the ability of players to chase future deals.
He said that issuance of visas to the tech workers under the intra company transfers has ‘reduced to a trickle’ and so for all practical purposes ‘the tap has been shut’.
"The number of Indian tech workers employed with various companies, are a few thousand now, probably under 10,000, which is inadequate to drive growth of the industry," he said here on Monday.
The comments assume significance as Indian IT companies use Singapore as a gateway to serve clients in the region. All major Indian tech companies including TCS, HCL, Infosys and Wipro have a presence in Singapore.
"If things don't change, companies will have to look for alternate ways for the region...search for alternate locations," he added.
Indian companies have been investing in Singapore to bolster their presence in the Asian market that has been growing at a strong pace, although US and Europe continue to account for over 80 per cent of the industry's export revenues.
With Singapore taking a conservative view of visa issuance to Indian tech workers, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to even maintain their level of manpower, "let alone raise" the numbers.
"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.
The visa issue has been brewing for over a year now, and Nasscom has been engaged in a dialogue with authorities in India as well as Singapore 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.
While Asian market has a relatively low share in the IT export basket, Chandrashekhar said companies have been looking at diversifying and developing newer markets.
"...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," he added.
Asked if the situation could hurt the ability of Indian companies to service contracts, he said while existing contracts may remain unaffected, the future contracts will definitely be hit.
"In fact some companies have started scaling down," he said.
With PTI Inputs