Abuse of future hawkers while keeping prices low

By Foo CL

This article by Straits Times, “First of 20 new hawker centres will open in Hougang in August 2015: NEA” wrote about how new hawker centres bring about more hawker and affordable food to Singaporean.

For one of such hawker centres, NEA mentioned that Fei Siong Food Management will manage the new hawker centre on a not-for-profit basis, by channelling operating surplus “to improve vibrancy and create social benefits”.”

I saw this as a step in the right direction but at the end, I cannot describe how disappointed after I was directed to “FEI SIONG FOOD MANAGEMENT PTE LTD”,  knowing more about the tendering of the hawker stall.

In the article, it states that the rental is S$1500-S$1800 which is comparable to others hawker at the same area, but failed to mention all the hidden cost charge by Fei Siong food management.

Cleaning and washing fee up to S$2000 per month excludes GST.

In most hawker centers, their highest rate to clean tables ranges between S$450-600 and S$600-1000 to wash the bowl inclusive of GST. Even taking the highest rate of the of the busiest hawker center, most would never exceed S$1600 in total cleaning fee (GST INCLUDED).

The rates offered is very much higher than the prevailing market rate.

Compulsory rental of point of sale (POS)

The POS system cost S$50 a month and the Fei Siong food management can also access your sales figure through this system.

Fixed uniform and utensil

Uniform and utensils will be provided by Fei Siong food management at an undisclosed amount.

Unfair tendering system.

There is a total of 40 stores but only 20 will be open tender, and the other 20 will be under the “entrepreneurship” program which will be operated by Fei Siong food management.

Under this program, applicants will write in the food they can cook and Fei Siong food management will select them to operate the stall on their behalf. The operator and the helper will be paid 25% of the stall sales. If u cannot meet the sales target, you will be removed from the program.

The rest of the 20 stall will be selected by Fei Siong food management instead of an open tender, which I will cover in the next point.

Conflict of interest?

Since Fei Siong food management will be managing 20 of the stalls and select the other tender. Wouldn’t Fei Siong food management give priority to food stores that are more popular, better profit margin and easier to operate to themselves and left over choices to those that decided to tender the stall remaining 20 stalls?

This 20 stalls will also have an unfair advantage due to higher overheads and operation cost stated above.

Strict Terms and conditions.

Fei Siong food management will require the hawkers to operate their stalls for 12 hrs a day. Wear their uniform, and control their off days so there will be a minimum numbers of stall opened every day.

This will not be easy for small family operated businesses that wish to keep their overhead low since they will definitely need to hire helpers to operate such long hours.

Business entity or government entity.

Is this hawker center that is built by taxpayer money been tender to Fei Siong food management for revenue or is it build for the benefit of residents to keep the food pricing low?

Price control

Despite having a higher operation cost, the hawker center management still wish to disguise it as a low-cost food center by restricting at least 2 product to be below $2.80

Been in F&B business myself, all the condition seem awfully similar to those in commercially operated food courts. But this is a NEA hawker center that is built by taxpayer money and released by the government as a form to assist citizen keeping food cost low. Why is it being abused as such?

I have attached the application form as proof of my claims.

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