The pool of foreign labour will keep growing, but at a slower, more sustainable pace, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.
The process has been painful for companies, but is necessary to raise productivity in sectors that are still lagging, he added.
The minister was responding to questions at a luncheon during the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce's (SICC's) 173rd annual general meeting (AGM).
Manpower issues were the foremost concern among chamber members and senior business leaders at the event, held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel and attended by about 200 people.
"We have no intention of cutting back the total number or freezing the total number (of foreign workers), but each company has to look at its own business operations and become more productive and efficient," said Mr Teo.
He was replying to Mr Arnoud De Meyer, the moderator and president of Singapore Management University, who noted the business community's concerns that the Government might be moving too quickly in its push for higher productivity.
Mr Teo reiterated the Government's intention to help companies lift productivity in traditionally labour-intensive sectors like food and beverage by encouraging firms to take on best practices from around the world.
The Government has been providing support, but "companies themselves have to do the work" of making sure their businesses are sustainable, he said.