SALARIES here are projected to go up by 4.5 per cent this year, a survey by global professional services firm Towers Watson has found.

This puts Singapore in 12th place in the Asia-Pacific in terms of projected salary increase figures for this year. Towers Watson said it received about 1,600 sets of responses from companies hailing from 18 countries in the region for this annual survey on salary movement and review practices.

In the Asia-Pacific, the biggest salary increases are expected to take place in Bangladesh (12.1 per cent), Vietnam (12 per cent) and India (11.2 per cent).

Hong Kong is tied with Singapore in 12th place, but Towers Watson noted that inflation is lower in Singapore than in Hong Kong.

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that Singapore's consumer price index (CPI) was at 3.8 per cent in March, against Hong Kong's 4.4 per cent. This would suggest that rises in salary here would be more significant than in Hong Kong, with local inflation taken into account.

Towers Watson's survey in Singapore covered 152 companies.

The 4.5 per cent projected salary increase for Singapore is an overall, cross-industry figure. Some industries here could be doling out larger increases: salaries are expected to rise by 4.7 per cent in the financial services sector, and 5.5 per cent in the pharmaceutical sector.

Companies were also polled on the proportion of their salary budgets that would be allocated to high performers.

Towers Watson found that 79 per cent of companies in Singapore plan to set aside a larger portion to high performers; 17 per cent said they would offer uniform increases to all employees; 3 per cent plan to divide up the entire salary pie only among high performers, and one per cent plan to exempt high performers from planned salary cuts.

An overwhelming majority of local companies indicated that a regular salary review would be done this year. Only 2 per cent plan to freeze salaries.