NEWS

Parliament Q&A

WRITTEN REPLY BY MR MASAGOS ZUKILFLI, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, TO PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION ON HAWKER CENTRES, 10 SEPTEMBER 2018

Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether NEA can lower the cost burden passed to hawker centre tenants and stallholders such as that in the implementation of one-stop payment terminals, electronic cashless payments, tray returns, dishwashing, and general cleaning.

Answer:

The primary objective of hawker centres is to provide hygienic and affordable food. The Government has invested in helping stallholders make a decent living and preparing them for future challenges, such as increased manpower shortage and rising labour costs.

2. The implementation of centre-level productivity initiatives, such as Centralised Dishwashing and Automated Tray Return Systems, will enhance productivity in our hawker centres. It will also reduce the hawkers’ workload while addressing their manpower constraints. As labour costs are expected to increase in future, the productivity savings from these initiatives will translate into cost savings for the stallholders. 

3. To help lower the initial cost burden, the Government is co-funding up to 70% of the operating costs of these initiatives for two years. This has been well-received in the hawker centres which have come on board our Productive Hawker Centres initiative, where more than 90% of the stallholders have adopted Centralised Dishwashing services. With these services, stallholders no longer need to collect and wash crockery or employ someone to do so. Stallholders also do not have to buy their own crockery as these are provided by the Centralised Dishwashing vendor.      

4. In October last year, NEA launched the Hawkers’ Productivity Grant that provides funding support for the purchase of kitchen automation equipment. This also helps to increase our hawkers’ productivity and reduce their workload. Stallholders can claim 80% of the qualifying cost of the equipment on a reimbursement basis, up to a total of $5,000 within a three-year time frame. NEA has approved some 120 applications since the launch. In the same vein, the Government requested a Call-for-Collaboration (CFC) for the provision of e-payment solutions for food businesses in April 2018. This will reduce the costs to hawkers who wish to adopt the option of electronic cashless payments to increase productivity.

5. For cleaning, NEA adopts procurement best practices to maximise value for money. These include open tenders to facilitate price competition, and demand-aggregation to bring down unit costs. NEA also adopts a price-quality model which balances between costs and service standards to stall-holders.

6. We will continue to monitor the costs to stallholders closely and, where necessary, review the measures to help our stallholders better manage their business costs.

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