SINGAPORE – The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is committed to using social enterprises to set industry price benchmarks to help keep daily necessities affordable, said its secretary-general Ng Chee Meng on Saturday (July 14).
One example he cited was NTUC Foodfare, which runs hawker centres, coffee shops and foodcourts.
Mr Ng also said that the best way to deal with the rising cost of living is to provide people with a good job.
“Because a good job will always be able to meet inflation,” said Mr Ng.
“If you look at the whole basket of things that are in Singapore, actually Singaporean workers (are in) a good wage group, so we are in a good position.”
He also said that he has set up and will chair a committee in NTUC to offer training programmes to workers.
Mr Ng was speaking on the sidelines of the official opening of Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre. The event was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Both Mr Ng and Mr Teo are MPs for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
The hawker centre is run by NTUC Foodfare, which manages more than 100 food and beverage outfits islandwide.
A breakfast set at Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre costs around $2, while at three of Foodfare's hawker centres, every stall offers at least one meal priced at $2.80, and a cup of coffee or tea goes for as low as 60 cents.
On Saturday, NTUC Foodfare also launched a Gift-A-Meal Programme for needy Pasir Ris residents.
Customers at Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, which opened to the public in January, can gift a $3.50 meal set through the Foodfare app or hawkers.
NTUC Foodfare started a social outreach programme in 2009 to provide nutritious and cheap mixed rice meals from as low as $1.50 for ComCare cardholders, and $2 for concession members. ComCare is a government programme that provides social assistance to low-income individuals and families.
There are 41 outlets here under the programme, called Rice Garden.
According to the 2012/2013 Household Expenditure survey, residents’ average monthly spending on food services increased more than the overall household expenditure, at 5.2 per cent on average.
Hawker centres, coffee shops and foodcourts are an important source of meals for the less well-off, with 80 per cent of residents in the first to 20th percentiles of income quintiles eating at these places.
A slightly smaller proportion – 63 per cent – of those in the 41st to 60th percentiles also patronised these places.
Cost of living was a hot topic in Parliament on Tuesday as both electricity tariffs and water prices have risen.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said that the Government’s strategies to ease cost-of-living worries include keeping the economy competitive, diversifying sources of supply for goods, focusing on giving help to those with less and working with social enterprises.