SINGAPORE: Aspiring hawkers on the incubation stall programme can look forward to longer rental discounts, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor announced on Thursday (Mar 7).
The 50 per cent discount off rental rates for incubation stalls has been extended from six to nine months.
“This is to address feedback that more time is needed to establish their business,” Dr Khor said in her Committee of Supply speech in Parliament.
The incubation stall programme was launched last February to support aspiring hawkers in learning the ropes and in testing their business plans in a practical setting. Their stalls come pre-fitted with basic equipment to lower the start-up costs.
Since its launch, more than 50 applicants have applied for 15 incubation stalls, including the two newest stalls at Chinatown Market.
CENTRALISED DISHWASHING SUBSIDIES EXPANDED
Existing hawkers who use centralised dishwashing services are also set to benefit from expanded subsidies under the Productive Hawker Centres grant.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has been paying up to 70 per cent of stallholders' centralised dishwashing fees for the first two years of adoption. The agency will now pay 50 per cent of the cost in the third year and 30 per cent in the fourth year.
Centralised dishwashing was introduced to reduce overall manpower needed for such services and table cleaning.
NEA said it is expanding the subsidies to further encourage stallholders to use a centralised dishwashing service, and to ease their transition towards assuming the full cost of the service.
For the seven new social enterprise hawker centres, NEA had announced last November that the dishwashing subsidy will be extended to them, following a review of operating costs stallholders there face.
In the case of social enterprise hawker centres, NEA will pay half of the dishwashing fees in 2019 and 30 per cent in 2020.
SEHC STALLHOLDERS WELCOME CONTRACT CHANGES: AMY KHOR
Social enterprise hawker centres (SEHC) came under the spotlight last year following complaints from stallholders about additional operating costs like dishwashing, tray-return and consultancy fees.
There was also feedback about contractual terms relating to operating hours, termination notice periods, security deposits and other charges such as legal fees.
The issues prompted NEA to review key contractual terms between stallholders and operators.
“I visited all seven SEHCs to get feedback from the stallholders on the changes made and am pleased that the majority of stallholders have welcomed them,” Dr Khor said on Thursday. “We will continue to improve the model based on feedback from hawkers and other stakeholders.”
Seven out of 114 hawker centres in Singapore are managed by private social enterprises and cooperatives: Fei Siong Social Enterprise, NTUC Foodfare, Timbre+Hawkers, Hawker Management by Koufu and OTMH by Kopitiam.
As of Jan 31, SEHC operators have organised a total of 18 feedback sessions with stallholders to “discuss feedback and brainstorm ideas” on improving the hawker centres, said NEA.
“All the operators are holding regular feedback meetings and will continue to gather the stallholders’ comments on stall operations through these meetings,” the agency added.
“Regular individual stall-to-stall engagement is also being conducted by NEA’s place managers to obtain insights and feedback from stallholders.”
Dr Khor also announced that the Government will help form two workgroups related to the hawker trade and culture. The workgroups will include hawkers, food advocates and representatives from various fields.
One group will explore ideas to attract and support new entrants to the hawker trade, while the other will look at encouraging graciousness and tray return habits.