SINGAPORE – Senior Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor outlined three areas on Monday (November 19), where her ministry will focus in the coming months to improve the Hawker Center Corporate Model (SEHC) implemented in seven new centers peddlers.
These are: better support for downtime in cost management, the regulator The National Environmental Agency (NEA) exercises greater oversight to safeguard the welfare of hawkers, and SEHC operators are to set up structured channels for entities responsible for providing feedback.
Dr Khor also said in the Parliament that a working group of hawkers and other experts would soon be formed to look at how to support newcomers in trade and uphold the hawkish culture of Singapore.
It is a valuable culture that Singapore plans to nominate in 2019. To enter the Representative List of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity UNESCO.
Meanwhile, the controversy at SEHC has triggered questions from 13 parliamentarians on Monday, including Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC).
Answering, Dr. Khor admitted that it was difficult to obtain the SEHC model from the very beginning, but he assured the deputies that the relevant ministries are working to fix the problems.
She called for understanding, explaining the problems that have erupted in recent months.
"As with any attempt, it is difficult to obtain the SEHC model from the very beginning, especially since we have not been building new hacker centers for nearly 30 years.
Seven new managers are managed by five socio-economic entities: Hawker Management by Koufu, Fei Siong Social Enterprise, NTUC Foodfare, Timbre + Hawkers and OTMH by Kopitiam.
These companies are required to reinvest half of their operating surplus due to the social benefits of Hawker centers. The Housing and NEA Board oversees most of the other centers in Singapore.
The government started construction of alarm centers in 2011 after a nearly 30-year break to help stabilize the prices of cooked dishes in the face of the emerging dominance of cafes and food courts.
In the SEHC model, washing is centralized and the tray return system is automated. These features are to overcome labor shortages and help to provide a cleaner environment.
However, there were problems, and some sellers demanded high rents, excessive washing costs and long hours of work.
Several steps have been taken in recent weeks to address these problems.
Dr Khor said: "We have set some key parameters, we have allowed the market to operate, and when we receive feedback or problems are raised, we will get to them quickly and decisively, as we did over the last month.
"We will not finish the supply of this model and we will continue to improve it to better serve Singapore."
To help mitigate costs for the "pedlars," measures were introduced "to ensure the fairness of rents, not speculation," she said.
Dr Khor noted that, unlike the popular opinion, the median rent in SEHC stands is around USD 2,000 a month, and the rent is not related to the rents of nearby cafes and foodcourts.
"They are not near the rents at these private dining outlets, which can range from $ 4,000 to $ 13,000 a month before other operating costs," she said. "As for existing guard centers, no stapler is paying for astronomical rental."
In addition, SEHC operators may not increase rent or operating costs during the tenancy.
In fact, excluding rent, operating costs in both centers are comparable, she noted.
Fees for services and maintenance at SEHC range from $ 110 to $ 350 a month, while those in hypermarket centers range from $ 130 to $ 450 a month.
Similarly, the cleaning fees for tables at SEHC range from USD 350 to USD 550 per month, while costs in existing centers range from USD 200 to USD 830.
NEA has announced that it will cover the costs of centralized dishwashing at SEHC for two years: 50 per cent in 2019 and 30 per cent in 2020.
"We realize that stallholders in new centers may need support during the transition period, because they need time to build a base of their clients," said Dr. Khor. Subsidies in the first years "will support them when they build their clientele."
As for the second area of interest, as the NEA balanced its delicate approach to operators and exercised greater oversight of the 'hawker' prosperity, several new rules were announced.
These include the permission for the owners of pedlars to work five days a week from January 1, 2019. And end the lease with no more than two months notice for operators.
Margin deposits held by the operator will not exceed two months.
Operators may impose damage and other charges on peddlers, but they are no more than $ 50 per day for minor violations and $ 100 per day for serious violations.
SEHC operators will also pay all legal fees associated with renting.
"NEA will continue to involve both hawkers and operators to solve problems in other areas," added Dr. Khor, asking them to transfer their contracts in plain language to ensure that potential stallholders understand the terms.
Citing our SEHC Tampons Center, she said that the community initially asked for a 24-hour center for riders. But the demand has not materialized, so both the operator and the seller will adapt the system.
"Thanks to changes during working hours, sellers who do not want to continue the 24-hour operations they signed up for can now do it," she added.
Dr Khor also said that the NEA, as part of the ongoing review of the SEHC model, will look at the selection criteria for operators, what to leave to market forces and whether other safeguards should be established.
She also said that in the NEA review, the operators proved to be flexible.
They did not charge rent for outstanding months when the contract was terminated prematurely, and agreed to waive legal fees for new lease and renewal agreements.
The final remark is addressed to SEHC operators to create structured return channels for the acquirers. Everyone did it and they had at least one meeting with their traders.
"I hope that such organized and regular meetings will help encourage communication, solve everyday problems and reduce misunderstandings," she said.