Existing hawker centre policies reviewed to stabilise food prices
Singapore, 6 March 2012 – Following the Government’s announcement last October that 10 new hawker centres will be built in the next decade, seven hawker centre sites have been confirmed in the following towns: Bukit Panjang, Yishun, Pasir Ris, Jurong West, Woodlands, Punggol and Tampines.
These centres will be built in towns with a relative underprovision of cooked food stalls. The sites were identified after taking into account the availability of complementary facilities and compatibility with adjacent land use.
The Government plans to complete the construction of the first seven new hawker centres within the next five years, beginning with Bukit Panjang. MEWR/NEA is exploring potential sites for the remaining three centres and will inform the public on the additional sites when they are confirmed. Upon the completion of the 10 new centres, they are expected to add some 600 cooked food stalls to the current supply of stalls.
Besides providing a source of affordable food, the overall increase in the supply of hawker stalls is expected to create a stabilising effect on food prices by exerting a downward pressure on rentals over time.
Changes to Existing Hawker Centre Policies
In building the new hawker centres, the Government will also draw on recommendations put forth by the Hawker Centre Public Consultation Panel, formed in November 2011 to deliberate on new ideas to improve hawker centre vibrancy, design and management for the new centres. Besides the increase in stalls, the Government will seek to moderate food prices by introducing changes to existing hawker tenancy policies, which will apply to both current and new hawker centres.
Subletting and Stall Assignment
Currently, non-subsidised stallholders are allowed to sublet and assign their stalls. As part of the measures to reduce the cost pressures on stallholders and to keep food prices affordable, the Government will no longer allow full day subletting, as there have been concerns that such practices increase rentals and cost pressures on food prices. Stallholders are required to personally operate the stall for at least four hours a day, but will be allowed to have a co-operator to run the stall for the other half of the day. The Panel recommended a similar approach.
To address concerns that the existing Stall Assignment Scheme allows speculators to profit and drive up food prices, non-subsidised stallholders will also not be allowed to assign their stalls. There are hawkers who take over stalls by way of assignment after paying assignment fees. To recoup their investment, they may then pass down the costs to consumers in the form of higher food prices. To address this, non-subsidised stallholders who are no longer interested in operating their stalls are to return the stalls to NEA, who will in turn rent the stalls out.
These new restrictions will apply to new centres and new tenants in existing centres, with effect from 1 April 2012. For the current stallholders in existing centres, the no full-day sub-letting and no stall assignment conditions will apply to tenancy renewals three years from now to allow reasonable time to make business adjustments. There will be no change in policy for subsidised stallholders.
Currently, stalls are allocated to the highest bids above the minimum rent under the Tender Scheme. Going forward, to allow more vacant stalls to be taken up, a reserve rent will not be set when tendering out vacant stalls.
This means that vacant stalls will be allocated to the highest bidder even at a low price, as long as there are competitive bids. This will ensure that all stalls in hawker centres are fully utilised.
Plans for New Hawker Centres
The Hawker Centre Consultation Panel has provided a number of ideas on management, infrastructure and design for the new hawker centres. Taking them into account, together with suggestions from the public, the Government will deliberate these proposals further in the following areas:
Future Management Models
As part of the review process, the Government is also exploring alternative hawker centre management models and is assessing the suitability of different management models for the new hawker centres.
While the Government has been managing hawker centres thus far, there is domain expertise within the private sector in F&B management which can be tapped. The building of new hawker centres provides an opportunity to pilot new management models that may improve upon the current management approach.
The Government is open to partnering different stakeholders on the design, building, and operation of new hawker centres, as long as they are aligned with the Government’s social objectives of food price affordability and meeting community needs. The Panel’s proposal for a social enterprise or cooperative to pilot managing a new hawker centre is one possible model the Government will explore.
Beyond food price affordability, hawker centre patrons should continue to enjoy a clean, hygienic and comfortable dining environment. Design features in the new hawker centres will take cost concerns into consideration to ensure that overall costs are kept low.
Drawing on the Panel’s recommendations, design features will be implemented in the new hawker centres to improve air circulation, such as designing buildings to enhance natural ventilation. Environmentally friendly features to improve energy efficiency, resource and water conservation will also be incorporated wherever possible. Examples of these features include energy-saving lights, which will help to lower costs in the longer term, and measures to encourage recycling by patrons and stallholders.
To improve the overall cleanliness of our hawker centres, designated return points for trays and crockery will also be a key feature in the new hawker centres.
Hawker Centres for Social Inclusiveness
In the coming year, the Government will continue to engage and consult closely with Advisors and grassroots for their inputs and ideas on the new centres that will be built.
Their design and development should be informed by the views of the people they will serve, as hawker centres are more than just places for affordable food. They are also important common spaces that cultivate a sense of community and key features of a city that is inclusive and makes room for everyone.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Miss Yu Qinyan/ Ms Sheena Tay
National Environment Agency
Tel: 6731 9867/ 6731 9214
About National Environment Agency:
Formed on 1 July 2002, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is the leading public organisation responsible for improving and sustaining a clean and green environment in Singapore. The NEA develops and spearheads environmental initiatives and programmes through its partnership with the People, Public and Private sectors. It is committed to motivating every individual to take up environmental ownership and to care for the environment as a way of life.
By protecting Singapore's environment from pollution, maintaining a high level of public health and providing timely meteorological information, the NEA endeavours to ensure sustainable development and a quality living environment for present and future generations.
COS_Media Factsheet_Hawker Centres.pdf [122.0 KB]