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SINGAPORE has the seventh-highest expatriate-pay packages in Asia-Pacific, down from last year's sixth position, despite the rise of pay-package costs over 12 months, said ECA International on Friday.
ECA's "MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey" showed the value of a typical total expatriate package for middle managers in Singapore is US$259,000.
The survey on pay levels for expatriates around the world includes benefits, allowances, salary calculation methods and tax treatment.
"The cost of providing certain benefits such as housing and education is the most expensive element of the pay package when relocating staff to Singapore. Remove these and Singapore falls from 7th to 14th in the regional ranking thanks, too, to low tax rates," said Lee Quane, regional director, Asia, ECA.
Expatriate packages in Singapore are still lower than in Hong Kong, which is ranked fifth in the region.
But the cost of packages gap between the two has narrowed, with Hong Kong's going down and Singapore's going up.
The survey found Japan to have Asia's highest expatriate-pay packages. On average, a package for an expatriate middle manager there is worth US$375,000.
Mainland China remains at No 4 in expat-pay packages, having overtaken Hong Kong last year. A total package for an expatriate middle manager in China is worth over US$276,000.
Still, the cost of benefits provision in tier-2 locations is still much lower than in tier-1 cities in China, said Mr Quane.
Malaysia has the second-lowest expatriate packages in the list - one spot below Thailand.
Mr Quane said there are ways in which companies can contain costs here. One way is to revise downwards housing allowances by using local salaries topped with additional benefits rather than using the employee's salary at home as a starting point.
International-assignment pay packages can be designed in a variety of ways, said ECA. The most common approach globally is to use the employee's salary in his home country as the starting point, then adjust for cost of living, any other allowances and tax.
But the report said increasingly, companies operating in the major Asian hubs adopt an approach, particularly for employees sent on a permanent one-way basis, whereby the host country's local salary is used as the starting point with or without some additional benefits, such as an allowance for accommodation or children's school fees.
The report also found that low cost of living does not always translate into low expatriate packages and that the currency in which salary is delivered matters.