Forum: Residents in some places at the mercy of high coffee shop prices

Mr Jonathan Wong's contention that we should let sky-high transaction prices of coffee shops be, as these are purely commercial decisions that would be tempered by supply and demand, is an oversimplification of the real issues (Not Govt's business to intervene in commercial decisions, June 22).

HDB incorporated neighbourhood coffee shops into estates to serve the social purpose of giving nearby residents easy access to affordable meals.

In places where there are many households and no alternative coffee shops nearby, the residents are at the mercy of the high prices charged by the coffee shop stalls to recoup the high prices paid in rent.

And when one coffee shop starts charging high prices, it might embolden nearby coffee shops to raise their prices as well. The losers in the end are the residents.

In the days when there was less wealth inequality, a hawker would be very wary of raising his prices for fear of losing customers because everyone was very price-sensitive.

With rising wealth disparity, there is now a sufficient pool of willing payers for raised prices, leaving the lower-income groups out in the cold. And we're talking food here, not luxuries.

We are living in a country, not a pure commercial entity, and every person must feel that he has a place in it. In areas where the lower-income feel powerless to fight rich asset holders, the authorities should step in to look after their interests.

Peh Chwee Hoe

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.