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AKIPRESS.COM - Singapore risks its business-friendly reputation by implementing new labor laws that require companies to prioritize hiring locals over foreigners for middle income jobs, The Star reports.
Large and medium-sized companies looking to hire workers with a monthly salary below $9,640 must now advertise the positions on a government-run online job database that only Singapore citizens and permanent residents can apply through.
The job must stay open to locals for two weeks before the company is allowed to seek foreign candidates.
Many multinational corporations, from Google and Microsoft to Procter & Gamble and BP, use Singapore as their regional headquarters, attracted by the city state's political and economic stability, low taxes and ability to attract talent from across Asia and the world.
Foreigners make up around 38 percent of Singapore's 3.4 million strong workforce and the new rules are the latest in a series of government measures aimed at easing locals' worries about the growing presence of foreigners on the island.
Concerns about jobs were one of the most prominent issues raised by voters at the 2011 general election, which was the most contested since Singapore's independence.
Economists believe the foreign labor restrictions could tarnish the city-state's reputation as an open and free economy.
Ten of 12 recruitment agencies said filling vacancies has become tougher in the past year, a trend set to continue. Several recruiters say they expect a rise in companies moving certain departments offshore, with IT and manufacturing the most likely sectors to be affected.