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Ten more hawker centres to be built in next 12 years

SINGAPORE – The Government will build 10 more hawker centres over the next 12 years, located in new estates or existing ones that are relatively under-served, said Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu today (March 11).

Ten more hawker centres to be built in next 12 years

The Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE – The Government will build 10 more hawker centres over the next 12 years, located in new estates or existing ones that are relatively under-served, said Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu today (March 11).

Speaking in Parliament during debate on the ministry’s budget, Ms Fu said five of these centres will be located in Bidadari, Sengkang, Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Panjang and Bukit Batok. The remaining locations will be made known later in the year.

In 2011, the ministry announced that 10 new hawker centres will be built over 10 years. The first two centres in Bukit Panjang and Hougang will open this year. Taken together, the 20 new hawker centres centres will add more than 800 cooked food stalls and help to further moderate rentals, said Ms Fu.

Today, Members of Parliament (MP) raised concerns on rising rental prices, the feasibility of the social enterprise model for hawker centres, among other issues.

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang (Ang Mo Kio GRC) noted that existing and potential hawkers are concerned with impact of the outsourcing model on stall rentals, while consumers worry if increases in rental will translate to higher prices. 

Ms Fu said that findings from an annual survey of more than 1,000 hawkers showed that rentals take up only 12 per cent of hawkers’ total costs. On the other hand, cost of raw materials took up more than half the total costs, while manpower, utilities, table-cleaning and other costs took up 17, 9 and 3 per cent of the total costs respectively. The survey used data from the National Environment Agency’s Cost Component Survey of hawker cooked food stalls in 2012 and 2013, as well as price data from the Department of Statistics.

Among the hawker stalls which experienced rental changes, more than half did not change their food prices, according to the survey. “Hence, there is little substantive evidence to say that rentals are the main driver of hawker food prices,” said Ms Fu.

She also noted that the Government has taken steps over the last few years to moderate rentals to ensure it does not drive up food prices. Currently, sub-letting or assignment of stalls is prohibited for stallholders. Following a three-year grace period, all non-subsidised stallholders also have to personally operate their stalls from April, she added.

Both Dr Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Yeo also asked about the new management model of hawker centres, where they are operated by social enterprises on a “not-for-profit” basis.

In response, Ms Fu said as these managing agents have only run these models for a short period of time, time will be needed before assessing their effectiveness.

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