Singapore city skyline
File photo: The Merlion statue spouts water at a park with the background of a business district in Singapore. Image Credit: AP

Singapore: Singapore will raise the salary criteria for foreign executives and professionals that companies can hire starting next year, the government announced on Monday.

From January next year, foreigners must earn S$5,600 ($4,170) or more 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 the qualifying salary hiked to S$6,200 from S$5,500.

The 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 long been a popular location for foreign firms to base their regional headquarters, while foreign labour has been a thorny issue with the local population worried about competition for employment opportunities.

As of June last year, Singapore had 197,300 foreigners on employment passes 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 salary floor for hiring foreigners have been raised three times with the previous adjustment - from S$4,500 to S$5,000 - taking effect just in September last year.