Subsidies for hawkers only a short-term solution

The idea that the National Environment Agency (NEA) pay half of hawkers' dish-washing fees next year and, in 2020, pay 30 per cent is very unrealistic (Subsidies for social enterprise hawkers; Nov 17).

The hawkers are looking for long-term solutions, not short-term gains from the authorities.

What will happen after 2020, when there are no more subsidies?

Inflation will keep going up year after year and low-wage workers' salaries are likely to increase as well.

Also, why do we need to have five different social enterprises to manage seven hawker centres?

Can't we use only one social enterprise as it is a non-profit organisation?

Also, as Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor pointed out, the hawker trade has been facing the challenges of an ageing workforce and manpower constraints.

As artificial intelligence is gaining traction, we should work closely with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and other organisations to make up for the shortage in manpower.

I hope that NEA will create a platform to encourage more people to inject innovative ideas for discussion, so as to come up with a long-term solution to this problem.

Gabriel Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'Subsidies for hawkers only a short-term solution'. Print Edition | Subscribe