THE recent debates here about tightening foreign manpower and slowing down Singapore's economic growth may give foreign firms here a wrong impression and are a "cause for concern", warned Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang.

But the economic agencies continue to track by sectors the foreign companies that are moving out, downsizing and retrenching workers, he said.

He was assuring Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC), who was worried about Singapore's business and political risks with tighter manpower policies, a slowdown in economic growth projections and "recent developments on the political front".

Nominated MP Tan Su Shan also asked if the Government kept track of companies moving out of Singapore.

Earlier this month, nine foreign chambers of commerce here protested against tighter curbs on foreign labour, while Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said many businesses talked about relocating.

Mr Lim said Singapore has been ranked first among 50 countries in the Business Environment Risk Intelligence (Beri) benchmark for business and political risk from 2010 to last year, and a close second to Switzerland in the preceding two years.

In a separate Beri index for political risk, Singapore ranked first for five years up to last year.

However, these benchmarks assess the situation up to the present, and not beyond, he acknowledged.

On their part, agencies such as the Economic Development Board collect anecdotal evidence from discussions with companies, embassies and business groups, as well as track media reports and analysts' assessments.

But Mr Lim said ongoing internal debates may give the wrong idea.

"So we're very watchful and continue to monitor this very carefully," he said.