Singapore

Hawker rentals kept low

NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin asks how NEA helps hawkers deal with rising costs

Mr Lim Cheng Poh, 50, pays $850 a month for his hawker stall in Commonwealth Crescent Market selling popiah, kueh pie tee and popiah skins.

He is among the 85 per cent of hawkers who pay less than $1,500 in rent for their stalls every month.

More than four in 10 hawkers pay less than $400, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament yesterday.

His ministry oversees the National Environment Agency (NEA), which is in charge of hawker centres.

Dr Balakrishnan said the low rental prices for hawkers were a result of government policies.

Yesterday, the Minister acknowledged the crucial role of hawker centres and hawker food in Singaporean life and noted that there was a concern about keeping everything affordable.

He said that rising manpower costs, in the form of wages for cleaners and assistants, are "well-justified and well-deserved" for the workers.

He added that his ministry is looking at alternative measures like getting NTUC Foodfare Co-operative to offer discounted bulk purchasing of ingredients to help reduce raw material costs for hawkers.

The Government is also looking into mobile apps that will display prices of hawker food in every single stall in Singapore.

Mr Balakrishnan said that Singaporeans will vote with their stomachs and feet if some hawker food become too expensive.

WORRIED

But Mr Lim remains worried.

He is happy that his rent is not a huge chunk of his expenses, but he forks out $300 for the electrical bill, $600 on cleaning costs and at least $1,000 for raw materials - a reality that the environment ministry reported earlier this year, when it said that 60 per cent of a hawker's expenses were for the cost of raw ingredients.

And with the cost of ingredients steadily rising, Mr Lim, who ran a stall in Margaret Drive before the market there was demolished about four years ago, said he feels the pinch.

"I hope for some more help. Perhaps they can reduce rental, especially while the traffic is not so good, like here."

parliamenthawkerrental