Friday, August 31, 2018

Operation of new generation hawker centers

The LHL administration made a mistake in their approach towards the new generation hawker center that were supposed to be operated differently from the food courts run by private operators.

They tendered out the hawker center to "social enterprises" to run on a non-profit basis.

What is the mistake? It is the use of "tender" system.

What is the alternative? The government should set the rental rate for each stall, e.g. $1,500 per stall.

The operator is allowed to tender for a fee to manage the operations of the hawker center, e.g. $200 per stall. The other expenses, e.g. centralized cleaning and utilities, should be based on a fair distribution of the actual cost.

Who should get the stall? It should be a hawker who has a licence. The license should be issued separately, based on family need and on skill. For example, a retrenched older worker or widowed mother.  If there are many applicants for a stall, the allocation can be decided by a draw.

Guidelines can be made for the price of the common items of food and drinks. It is not difficult to find out the prices charged in other hawker centers to work out the general guidelines. If a stall charges a high price compared to the market, the customers are likely to boycott the stall and patronize the other stalls.

What are your views?

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