A business association has said that the tightening of rules on hiring foreign workers is putting pressure on multinationals operating in Singapore.
The warning from Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) followed a similar warning by the Singapore Business Federation on the foreign worker levy, local daily Straits Times reported on Friday.
"Nobody is packing up just yet, but they are waiting and running the numbers. If this continues, you would probably see some companies shrinking their Singapore operations over the next few years, and this would mean fewer jobs for Singaporeans," said Phillip Overmyer, chief executive of SICC.
The new rules has stipulated higher salary thresholds and tighter rules for applications. The worker shortage appears to be showing up across the board, from a lack of chambermaids in the hotel sector to a need for engineers for manufacturers and drivers for logistics companies.
The free trade hub and high open economy relies heavily on foreign labor from construction workers to executives and professionals. About one fifths of the population in Singapore are foreign.
The Singapore International Chamber of Commerce said the multinationals are find it so hard to find skilled staff that some may scale back their operations here.
The SICC is surveying member companies on foreign manpower issues. Its preliminary findings show more than half of the 120 companies polled so far saying that access to foreign talent was an important factor in helping them decide to set up or expand their operations in Singapore.
The SICC said it hoped the government will take a more targeted approach towards its foreign worker policies.
"We might be able to find a way to shrink some industries but not others. If we don't take action to allow the big guys to play as they've been playing here for the past several decades, I'm very much afraid they will leave in a few years," said Overmyer.