Parliament: Costs at 7 new socially conscious hawker centres comparable to those at government-run centres

Customers at the Jurong West Hawker Centre on Oct 8, 2017. The centre is run by food centre operator Koufu's social enterprise subsidiary, Hawker Management.
Customers at the Jurong West Hawker Centre on Oct 8, 2017. The centre is run by food centre operator Koufu's social enterprise subsidiary, Hawker Management.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Hawkers at the seven new socially conscious enterprise hawker centres (SEHCs) pay rents that range from $750 to $3,700 a month.

This works out to a median - the mid-point between a range - rent of $2,000 a month, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 11).

And it is comparable with the $1,700 median rent at similar existing hawker centres, after taking into account the bigger and better-designed stalls as well as amenities at the SEHCs, Dr Khor added.

She also said the rents of non-subsidised hawker stalls at similar government-run centres range from $640 to $3,900 a month.

As for the ancillary costs, such as service and conservancy charges (S&CC) and table-cleaning fees, these are similar at all hawker centres, Dr Khor said.

S&CC charges at the new centres are between $110 and $350 a month, which is within the monthly range of $130 to $450 at government-run centres, she added.

With table cleaning, the fees at the new centres are between $300 and $550 a month, which is also within the monthly range of $200 to $830 at government-run centres.

 
 
 
 

"As for other operating expenses incurred directly by stallholders, such as utilities, manpower and raw materials, these would vary from stall to stall depending on factors such as the nature of business and market conditions," Dr Khor added.

Dr Khor was replying to Mr Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC), who had asked for the median, lowest and highest rental fees of government-run hawker centres and SEHCs, as well as their operating expenses.

In October 2018, the SEHCs drew flak over onerous contracts that hawkers said forced them to work long hours while shouldering the burden of expensive dish-washing, tray-return, and marketing costs.

The companies that run SEHCs are Hawker Management by Koufu, Fei Siong Social Enterprise, NTUC Foodfare, Timbre+Hawkers and OTMH by Kopitiam.

Following the criticism, the National Environment Agency, which oversees hawker centres in Singapore, required changes be made to the SEHC contracts to allow for shorter working hours, limit the costs of fines and damages imposed on hawkers, and share part of the dish-washing costs with the hawkers.

Dr Khor also told the House that the Productive Hawker Centre grants have been extended to hawkers at SEHCs to help them better manage costs.

From Jan 1, 2019, the stallholders would see a halving in the costs of their centralised dish-washing service, and next year, by 30 per cent.

The grants will help "overcome the labour constraints the hawkers will increasingly face, and can go a long way in sustaining our hawker trade to serve the needs of Singaporeans", she said, noting that the cost of hiring a dishwasher could go up to $1,500 a month.