Tender for Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar not awarded to highest bidder: MCCY
“The point is not to get the bidder with the highest price, but the bidder with the best expertise, best proposal,” says Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.
SINGAPORE: The tender for this year’s Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar did not go to the highest bidder, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong on Friday (Apr 21).
“The point is not to get the bidder with the highest price, but the bidder with the best expertise, best proposal,” he said in parliament.
“And in particular for a bazaar the size and scale of Geylang Serai … it is important to get the programming, as well as the way in which the bazaar will be operated in a safe way for both the stallholders as well as the patrons, right.
“That's why we look for the professional operator, as well as one who has the experience.”
Mr Tong was responding to a question from Member of Parliament (MP) Faisal Manap (WP-Aljunied) on how the People’s Association (PA) ensures that stall rentals at trade fairs and bazaars remain affordable.
There have been complaints about high rental costs at this year’s Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar, which is jointly organised by S-Lite Event Support, TLK Trade Fair and Events, and Enniche Global Trading, since it started on Mar 17. The bazaar ends on Friday.
Besides the cost of renting a stall at the bazaar, multiple stallholders also told CNA that there seemed to be fewer visitors this year and that the organisers did not do enough about limiting the number of stalls selling the same food or product.
In his reply, the minister said an open tender process is held for trade fairs and bazaars organised on state land to appoint a “professional fair operator”.
PA does not run the trade fair or bazaar, but it sets the relevant conditions and specifications for the operator to ensure that the event is held in a conducive and safe environment for stallholders and patrons.
A successful tenderer will have to comply with the terms of the tender, he said. The tenderer then sets the relevant rental rates for the stalls by taking into account factors such as the duration and location of the event, and the type of business based on market rates.
“An entity or individual who intends to bid for a stall will know in advance the rates which are proposed to be charged, as well as the other details in which the trade fair or bazaar is being operated. They can then assess for themselves whether to make a bid,” he said.
Mr Tong said the above framework would apply to the ongoing Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar, adding that the open tender process attracted “several” bids.
“In considering the tender, price is one factor amongst others. In the case of the bazaar, the award did not go to the bidder with the highest price,” the minister said.
Mr Faisal also asked if a survey could be considered to find out how many businesses faced losses, managed to break even and made profit during the bazaar, with the findings made public to “provide proper closure in addressing the public concerns”.
In his reply, Mr Tong said stallholders are not required to declare their takings to PA, but anecdotal evidence suggests that some of the stallholders had recouped their rental expenses “sometime around the midway point” while others might take a longer time.
“It’s really a question of which stalls, what the offerings are, how popular they might be and so on,” he said.
“And in any typical bazaar or market, there will always be a variety and always be a differential in terms of the takings of the stores ... but the point to be made is that they know in advance what the costs will be.”
Mr Tong noted that a “substantial number” of stallholders had previously either operated a stall at the bazaar, or at other trade fairs organised by the PA or the Merchants’ Association. A “fair number” also took up more than one stall at the bazaar.
“So again, that's something that they have to factor in their own consideration when it comes to market price, what they think they can afford, what they think they can sell and whether they can realise and recoup (their costs).”
“We will continue to take soundings from not just the stall operators, but also the consortium operator, the patrons and the people who deal with the security and other aspects of this bazaar to learn from it so that in subsequent years it will be better,” the minister said.