SINGAPORE – The model under which seven new street vendor centers are run by social enterprises is generally solid, despite problems with its implementation, Environment and Water Minister Masagos Zulkifli told parliament on Monday (19). from November).
His ministry has heard the return of Singaporeans and will adjust the scheme to better serve customers and take care of the welfare of street vendors, he added.
Masagos and the Minister of State, Amy Khor, presented 19 questions from parliamentarians about these socially conscious merchandise sales centers (SEHCs), which are under public criticism for imposing unnecessary rules and an extra layer of costs for street vendors.
"Give the model time to adapt, adjust and optimize the results we seek to achieve," he said, citing affordable but good food, a decent life for local street vendors that are sustainable, and the need to preserve sales outlets ambulant
Mr. Masagos explained to the members why the government embarked on this model when it resumed the construction of street vendor centers in 2011, after a hiatus of almost 30 years, in response to the widespread appeals of the Singaporeans.
"We have reassumed the construction of street vendor centers to serve as a ballast to stabilize cooked food prices against the emerging domain of coffee shops and restaurants," he said.
However, he added that just by building new hawker centers, the government can not automatically expect them to be viable and sustainable. Some street vendors, for example, only work for short hours. The median age of street vendors is around 60, and many successful street vendors say they expect their children not to follow in their footsteps.
Masagos said, "We have to transform and find ways to make hawker trading sustainable, or we can stop hawker centers without hawkers."
To adapt to changes in needs and circumstances, it was crucial to find new operating models to support street vendor trading, he added.
"That's why we're testing the SEHC model for our new hawker centers."
He explained that SEHC operators bring new ideas and inject innovations that individual hawkers or the government can not. For example, they are able to heal food stalls for quality and variety. They can also bring in famous food recipes and are in a better position to run hawker hatchery programs to help sustain the hawker's trade.
In addition, they innovate to improve accessibility and increase the vitality of centers through better marketing and site creation programs, not just leave it at random, the minister said.
As the sole operator of each hawker center with food, beverage and management skills, these SEHC operators can help street vendors resist the competition of other food and beverage alternatives and adapt to technological disruptions, better than peddlers individually, he added.
"In the future, the best SEHCs will develop capabilities to support and sustain the hawker trade that we will appreciate," he said.
While Mr. Masagos was encouraged by recent public discussion about how existing NEA centers perform better than SEHCs, he said, "It is not enough to keep doing things the same way. That is why we have to continue with the model of SEHC. "
He explained that in general, the SEHCs achieved good results, despite the short time that the operations began. For example, food prices in SEHCs are affordable and comparable to existing centers, SEHC operators are curated with food quality and variety, and also keep their centers open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
However, SEHCs will take time to establish themselves, he added.
"The market mechanism is working and the government should not intervene unnecessarily, requiring low or no leasing, which could affect fair competition."
Street vendors are businessmen, after all, he pointed out.
"We want to reward successful street vendors to sustain commerce and preserve our beloved legacy of street vendors. It is natural to have some degree of addiction, as better street vendors replace those who are less well suited to trade."
Market forces would lead to a fair distribution of street vendors' stalls, which ultimately benefits the residents, he added.
"It is unfair for the government to subsidize a street vendor on the grounds that business is poor.This would be unfair to a better performing peddler who thrives on healthy competition.It would also be unfair to other food service operators in the neighborhood private sector to the centers, "he said.
The model should therefore ensure that rents and costs are transparent and fair to street vendors but can not subsidize street vendors as they distort the functioning of the market, he added.
"As with any test and experiment, we can not always get it right the first time, we listen to the feedback and adjust the model to better serve the Singaporeans, we will continue with the SEHC model and improve it to serve customers well and take care of wellness of our street vendors. "