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Only the best (and very expensive expats) for Singapore

05 March 2024

Singapore's employment hub by the Jubilee bridge (Singapore govt photo)

Singapore has upped the ante for attracting the best expatriate executives and professionals from abroad.

In a government statement issued Monday, the Singapore government announced that starting next year, foreign executives must be paid no less than S$5,600 ($4,170 or P233,649) a month – up from the current S$5,000 – to qualify for the so-called employment passes typically granted to high-paid professionals.

Those in the financial sector will have to be paid more, their qualifying salary will be raised to S$6,200 from S$5,500.

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Singapore’s manpower ministry said the move is meant to “ensure that EP (employment pass) holders are of high quality, and to maintain a level playing field for locals”.

The Southeast Asian financial hub has displaced many cities in the region, including Hong Kong, as the favorite location for foreign firms to base their regional headquarters.

But like its neighbors, Singapore has to allay fears of local workers that their employment opportunities will be hampered if foreigners are allowed to get in easily

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As of June last year, there were 197,300 foreigners on employment passes in Singapore, out of a total foreign workforce of about 1.5 million. The country has a population of 5.9 million.

Since the pandemic hit in 2020, the minimum salary for expatriate executives has been raised three times, with the latest, of S$4,500 to S$5,000, taking effect only in September last year.

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