Why subsidise lifestyle choice of eating out?

Singapore must be the only developed country where the Government is under pressure to keep the costs of eating out low ("Govt policies help keep rents low for hawkers: Vivian"; Wednesday ).

In other developed countries, eating out is a treat.

If one wants to keep the cost of meals low, one prepares food at home. If one wants other people to cook and clean up, one should be prepared to pay reasonably well.

Government subsidies of hawker stall rentals is not a long-term answer.

One has to remember that a subsidy is also an implicit use of taxpayers' money.

In this sense, the subsidy of rents uses taxes to subsidise a lifestyle choice - eating out is a want, not a need.

We are also seeing fewer members of the younger generation taking up the cooking and selling of local fare, because it is not a lucrative business.

As Singapore develops, it is perhaps time for our hawker business to adjust upwards accordingly, and for our expectations for low prices to be tempered.

A government has an obligation to try to keep the costs of raw food down. It does not, and should not, however, be spending time and taxpayer money making sure there are low-cost options for eating out.

Calvin Cheng Ern Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Why subsidise lifestyle choice of eating out?'. Print Edition | Subscribe