Singapore wage rise likely to exceed this year's inflation rate
"Do you still remember the state of the property market 10 years ago in Singapore?", the taxi driver burst into question once he recognised me as a non-Singaporean.
He went on to make his point: "You foreigners would be able to rent a HDB room for a few hundred dollars then. But now you have to pay more than S$600-800 for exactly the same room!
"What about your salary? Did it increase by the same margin of six times as the rent? Inflation is really unfair," he said.
The taxi driver had hit the nail on the head with his comments on the imbalance between inflation rate and wage rise.
But the latest survey by Consulting firm Towers Watson is good news workers who are struggling with the rising costs of living in Singapore.
The survey showed that wages may go up by 4.5% on average, more than the expected 3.8% inflation rate forecast for this year.
The results - from an online survey in February and March - were gathered from about 1,600 responses from 18 economies across the Asia-Pacific region.
Meanwhile, the expected wage rise in Hong Kong is 4.5%, just above the inflation rate of 4.4%. China showed 8.8% wage growth, much higher than its inflation rate of 4.3%.
Mr Andrew Lee, chief executive of Zingrill Holdings, which owns restaurant brands such as Seoul Garden and Breeks Cafe, is cautious about wage rises because they would tighten the job market and increase labour costs.
"While we want to make sure that the salaries we pay are comparable to the market rate, in the long run, this can be sustained only if the company raises the productivity of its workers," he said.
"We have to work with staff to upgrade their skills, to create a win-win situation for both parties", he told The Straits Times newspaper.
Mr David Ang, executive director of the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI), commented: "This is quite a reasonable increment, considering that inflation might still be at a level where companies feel they have to meet employee expectations to increase real salaries."
He pointed out that companies have to make use of salaries to "differentiate between those who are key to the organisation and those who are just maintaining the same levels of performance.
It is inevitable for companies to keep up with the market wage rate while they need to produce profits. Managements must put their heads together to achieve the balance between wages and talents.