Social enterprises invited to submit proposals to manage hawker centres

Social enterprises invited to submit proposals to manage hawker centres
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Published: 4:03 AM, January 4, 2014
Updated: 4:00 AM, January 6, 2014
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SINGAPORE — The National Environment Agency (NEA) has called for interested social enterprises to submit proposals for managing four of its hawker centres on a not-for-profit basis — a first for the agency.

This is in line with recommendations made by the Hawker Centres Public Consultation Panel in 2012, which had proposed that new hawker centres be managed on such a basis.

According to the Request for Information (RFI) documents published on government procurement portal GeBiz yesterday, the hawker centres are located at Block 207 New Upper Changi Road, Block 117 Aljunied Avenue 2, Block 20 Ghim Moh Road and Block 503 West Coast Drive.

A proposer appointed a Master Tenant will have to manage the tenancies of individual stalls and responsibilities include ensuring that all stallholders “provide affordable food in relation to other reference centres”.

Any proposed increase in food prices must be approved by the Master Tenant, who will also have to propose a “suitable methodology and tool(s) to ensure food price management”.

A proposer can apply to manage one or even all four hawker centres, with different management models for each centre. “This would allow them to operate hawker centres using new models given their prior experience in food and beverage operations, as well as property and lease management. NEA believes that these innovations could widen the diversity of affordable food options and dining experiences, as well as employment opportunities for Singaporeans and permanent residents,” said the agency in a statement.

The current leases of the four centres expire on May 31. The new leases will have a tenancy of three years, extendable to a maximum of nine years in three-year terms.

“Depending on the level of interest in the exercise, the NEA may consider extending this approach to the other hawker centres that are under the Stall Ownership Scheme in the future,” the NEA said.

Social enterprises TODAY spoke to cautiously welcomed the NEA’s call. Ms Elim Chew, who chaired the panel, pointed out that the Master Tenant will have to balance social goals with business viability.

The management of such a hawker centre should actively market the hawker centre to promote business, while helping hawkers lower business costs, she added.

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