(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

SINGAPORE – Expatriate pay packages remained the ninth highest among countries in the Asia-Pacific, the latest instalment of an annual survey shows.

An expatriate package comprises the base cash salary, tax and benefits such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars.

The value of a typical expat package for middle managers in Singapore now stands at S$316,600, said human resource firm ECA International in its MyExpatriate Market Pay survey report.

In comparison, a typical package in Hong Kong is higher at S$356,800, with the territory coming in fourth highest in the region.

Over the past five years, the gap has widened between Singapore and Hong Kong, said the report released on Wednesday (May 17). In US dollar terms, the total cost of Singapore’s expatriate packages has fallen by 6 per cent over this period, compared with Hong Kong’s decline of just 2 per cent due to the relative strength of the Hong Kong dollar.

Singapore is actually second only to Pakistan when base cash salary alone is considered.

But as ECA International’s regional director for Asia, Mr Lee Quane, explains: “In local currency terms, although expatriate salaries continue to rise in Singapore, reaching the highest levels since our survey began, the cost of the benefits element has significantly declined.”

The most expensive part of the expatriate package in Singapore is typically the benefits element, to the extent that the benefits components are often more expensive than an expat’s net take-home pay.

“Even though international school fees have risen in Singapore, the overall cost of benefits packages have fallen in US dollar terms by 10 per cent over a five-year period due to expatriate accommodation rental prices declining,” said Mr Quane.

Still, Singapore’s base salary and benefits components sit in the top three for both elements in the Asia-Pacific rankings, noted Mr Quane.

“However, when tax is factored in, Singapore falls down to ninth in the Asia-Pacific’s overall most expensive locations as it has one of the lowest personal tax rates in the world,” he said. “This ensures that Singapore remains one of the cheaper locations for companies to send their expats to in the region.”

Japan, with its strengthening yen, topped the ranking for expat packages. On average, a package for middle managers there is worth S$493,900, up 12 per cent from last year’s total. It is followed by China and India.

Singapore has been slowly slipping down the list from sixth place in 2014 to seventh in 2015 and ninth place in 2016 and this year.

Malaysia continues to offer the region’s cheapest expatriate package at just under S$225,900, behind both Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Its package has fallen by 13 per cent since 2012 in US dollar terms.

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