The recent furore over hawker food pricing set me thinking ("Minister Vivian Balakrishnan responds to young hawker's concerns about rising costs"; ST Online, last Monday).
My mother-in-law runs a National Environment Agency (NEA) hawker stall with a rent of $900 and sells cheap Malay food.
She barely makes a profit but maintains her prices for the sake of her elderly patrons.
Two stalls away, bidded for successfully in May at $10, another hawker sells vegetarian roti prata and other Indian food at market prices.
It is obvious who makes more.
The removal of a minimum bid amount in tendering for cooked-food stalls has led to a large discrepancy in the rents paid by stalls that tendered before and after the change.
I suggest that all hawker stalls, even first-generation ones, be put on a flat rental system, regardless of location, and that all hawkers set and submit their food prices to the NEA for approval.
This will help bring back affordable food to the people and allow hawkers decent earnings.
The controlled rents and food prices can be reviewed regularly, given the fluctuating costs of ingredients and manpower.
Adam Yap Keh Chew