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Both PAP and WP MPs file over 30 parliamentary questions relating to the challenges hawkers face at SEHCs

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Members of Parliament (MPs) from both the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP) are set to field questions relating to the challenges hawkers face at Social Enterprise Hawker Centres (SEHCs), when Parliament convenes next Monday (19 Nov).

The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources will face over 30 questions on this hot button issue that gripped headlines when it was revealed that four out of five social enterprises that took over running certain hawker centres increased operating costs for hawkers, who are also expected to abide by strict conditions.

According to the Order Paper of Parliament, the following 13 parliamentarians have filed questions on the issues that the SEHCs have brought to the forefront. One PAP MP is even asking the authorities whether they “can stop further outsourcing of hawker centres to private operators”.

Read the questions that have been filed over the issues brought on by SEHCs here:

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1. Miss Cheryl Chan Wei Ling: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the factors that the Ministry considers before deciding to outsource the hawker centre management from NEA to private companies; and (b) whether the Ministry has oversight of the general contract framework or pricing models that the private management companies impose on their tenants.

To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the different types of new hawker centre models available today; (b) of all the current hawker centres, how many of them are under these new models of management; and (c) whether there is a timeline for measuring the effectiveness of each model when the new hawker centre models are being tested.

2. Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what is the total number of vacant stalls at NEA-run hawker centres and markets as at 30 September 2018; and (b) what has been the takeup rate of vacant stalls since NEA removed the floor price.

To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the cost components of running the existing hawker centres and markets; (b) whether there is a subsidy or grant given to each hawker or market stall and, if so, what is the subsidy; and (c) whether the same subsidy or grant is extended to social enterprise operators.

To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what has been the success rate of tray returns since the programme was launched; and (b) whether there is a need to redesign the tray return collection points through enhancement of the washing area for patrons to return direct to the washing area-cum-collection point for better efficiency and reduce bird-related hygiene issues.

3. Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) how many hawkers have taken part in the Incubation Stall Programme; (b) how many will be continuing beyond the incubation period; and (c) for those who will not continue, what are the reasons and how will the Ministry address them.

To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what challenges do hawkers face under the social enterprise hawker centres initiative; (b) what kind of pricing model should hawkers and patrons expect under this initiative; and (c) how is the Ministry addressing the unhappiness resulting from this initiative.

4. Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether the total cost of running a hawker stall under the new social enterprise-run hawker centres model has been significantly higher than that of the NEA-run model; (b) whether the new model has helped serve the policy intent of providing affordable food and sustaining hawker culinary skills and trade; and (c) whether the contractual terms and requirements imposed by the operators of the new model on the hawkers are reasonable and fair.

5. Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether the Ministry can stop further outsourcing of hawker centres to private operators; (b) whether the Ministry conducts an oversight of the contract terms between the management and tenants of outsourced hawker centres; and (c) what is the Ministry doing to resolve the many issues arising from its decision to outsource hawker centres.

6. Mr Zainal Sapari: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the key success factors that can be attributed to NEAmanaged hawker centres in bringing affordable and good food to the public; and (b) what are the challenges in replicating the successful NEA-managed hawker centres to new hawker centres operated by social enterprises.

7. Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) how many hawker stalls are paying a rental of $10,000 or more per month; (b) what is the current highest rental that a hawker stall is paying; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider implementing a cap on the rental to better manage food prices.

8. Mr Ong Teng Koon: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether hawker center stall rental rates can be de-linked from private market rental rates including privately-owned HDB coffeeshops and free market bidding rates.

9. Mr Darryl David: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what measures are in place for the Ministry to take action against private operators of hawker centres who do not abide by the terms of the operating contract; and (b) what action can be taken against private operators of hawker centres whose actions or lack thereof lead to reputational damage for the Ministry, other government agencies, hawkers and other community stakeholders.

10. Prof Lim Sun Sun: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether the Ministry has considered working with NHB’s Our Hawker Culture travelling exhibition to better grasp public opinion and tap new ideas on what Singaporeans expect of our hawker centres beyond providing affordable food.

To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources where food supply is required at complexes that are open 24 hours, whether the Ministry has considered more strategic use of vending machines that provide hot food in place of mandating that hawker stalls remain open.

11. Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether rent and all ancillary charges payable by hawkers in hawker centres operated by not-for-profit social enterprises, such as dishwashing charges, are lower than those in NEA-managed hawker centres; and (b) if not, whether the Government intends to take any corrective action to reduce any additional business costs for the hawkers accordingly.

12. Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what is the relative cost structure of hawker stalls under NEA management, social enterprise management, and for-profit coffeeshops respectively; (b) what is the nature and extent of implicit subsidies provided in NEA-managed hawker centres; and (c) whether the Ministry has plans for subsidising the operating costs of hawkers when hawkers experience difficulties in providing affordable food while earning a reasonable income.

13. Miss Cheng Li Hui: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) how does NEA intend to help mitigate the cost increase in rental for the social enterprise-run hawker centres over time; and (b) whether NEA has any plans to run the hawker centres currently operated by social enterprises.

To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) how long will NEA take to complete the stock-take of the social enterprise model of hawker centres; (b) whether the findings will be published for public consultation; and (c) whether the on-going debate on social enterprise-run hawker centres will affect Singapore’s bid for hawker culture to be listed under the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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