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Hawkers unsure of not-for-profit model

Some doubt social enterprise will have resources to run food centres well

Published on Jan 13, 2014 8:04 AM
 
The Block 20 Ghim Moh Road market and food centre is one of four existing hawker centres – the others in Aljunied, West Coast Drive and New Upper Changi Road – that may come under not-for-profit management. The NEA this month called for proposals from groups to manage the four centres. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A new government proposal to outsource the management of four existing hawker centres has left stallholders uncertain about their future.

Some of them told The Straits Times that they are unsure if they can afford new, higher rents, and they are also sceptical that a social enterprise will have the resources to run the centres.

They may bid for vacant stalls elsewhere if the new rents are too high, said some hawkers, while others are turned off by the proposal's requirement that they would have to seek the manager's approval to raise food prices.

Aljunied economical rice seller Song King Whatt, 57, said he made only slightly more than $10,000 in profits for the whole of last year. "I hope the new rent will not be more than $1,200 a month."

 
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Background story

WHAT THE MODEL ENTAILS

  • Each centre's operating surplus will be shared among its stakeholders, such as the hawkers, manager and NEA, and be used for "social benefits", and cannot go to the manager's shareholders.
  • The managers would look for hawkers to take over vacant stalls and oversee food prices and food mix in the centres.
  • The managers would also have to ensure affordable and hygienic food, jobs for Singaporeans and PRs, and community space for interaction.