Week's top letter #1: Basic services should be delivered directly by Govt

It is bewildering that various government agencies are defending the current social enterprise hawker centre model as a sound formula.

Among the reasons for the Government providing hawker centres is to make affordable, no-frills dining options available to the masses.

As in any business, labour, rental and auxiliary expenses alone form a substantial part of fixed overheads, which are invariably passed back to the consumer through higher pricing or smaller servings.

It is hard for the common man to comprehend why the Government would make something that could have been simpler - by managing the hawker centres directly itself - so complex by outsourcing it.

When a business earns, it is called a profit. When a non-profit entity earns, it is called a surplus.

Just as entities earn money to fulfil their causes, so does a government, to fulfil its goals and visions.

How can it possibly be cost-friendly when an additional surplus-seeking party is squeezed in between the hawker and the consumer?

I see many similarities between what is unfolding in the hawker space and the previous management of our public transport systems.

For many years, the Government defended the decision to privatise our public transport services, whose operators were struggling between making profits and delivering a basic service to the masses.

It was only when problems became so acute and got out of hand that the authorities decided to replace it with the contracting model.

Basic services that serve the needs of Singaporeans ought to be delivered directly by the authorities.

Felix Kim