Hawker centres are where everyone goes almost every day, and where fellow Singaporeans serve us affordable and tasty world-class food. Hawker culture, too, goes beyond being our national heritage — it is the world’s as well.
The PAP Government will preserve all of these despite rising inflation, announced Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Amy Khor in her Committee of Supply (COS) speech Thursday morning (Mar 2).
Innovations like subsidised snack kiosk stalls and e-ordering support are some of the measures on the PAP’s menu.
Plans to build 20 new hawker centres are ongoing, with new estates and under-served heartland areas prioritised.
“Last year, four new hawker centres opened in Senja, Canberra, Fernvale, and Punggol,” shared SMS Khor.
“Repairs and redecoration, or R&R works, were also completed at 15 centres. Many Singaporeans have explored these centres as part of hawker centre-hopping circuits, which is becoming a national pastime,” she added.
The Hawker Centres Transformation Program (HTP) for cleaner, more productive and more sustainable hawker centres, is also being piloted at Cheng San and Geylang Serai.
Meanwhile, the Government’s Hawkers’ Productivity Grant (HPG) gives co-funding support to help hawkers with their purchase of kitchen automation and queue management equipment.
“Close to $3 million has been provided to more than 900 workers under the HPG,” said SMS Khor.
“Additionally, existing centres have tapped on PHC (the Productive Hawker Centres programme) funding to implement centre-level centralised dishwashing or CDW and Automated Tray Return System, or ATRS.”
The ATRS will also be broadened to cover cleaning process automation — cleaner tables and less busy cleaners await!
We make no bones about it. As your father/mother/auntie/uncle might say,”Nowsadays cai png very expensive.”
It’s true — both for the customer and the hawker.
So that’s why there is a meaty bevy of policies to help out both sides.
Rents are being kept reasonable and bid through the National Environment Agency’s monthly tender exercises with no minimum bid; individuals can bid as low as $1 for a stall, or higher in order to secure stalls at popular locations.
“Only about four per cent of food stalls in hawker centres today are paying rent at above the Assessed Market Rent,” noted SMS Khor.
“The remaining over-5600 stallholders are paying rent no higher than the Assessed Market Rent. Median rentals across non-subsidised food stores have remained constant at about $1,250 per month since 2018.”
These reasonable rents are on top of 10 months of waived rentals and six months of table cleaning and centralised dishwashing subsidies for hawkers during the worst of the pandemic and Assurance Package CDC vouchers for customers.
The PAP Government is also helping hawkers go digital.
Digital support groups now operate at 37 hawker centres and stall-level help for services such as e-ordering is coming under the expanded HPG.
“We will maintain a co-funding quantum at 80 per cent,” said SMS Khor regarding the HPG.
“But we’ll increase the total claimable amount from $5000 to $7000 per stallholder. The funding period will also be extended to March 2026.”
“This included delicious halal braised duck kway teow from an ISP stall by Jonathan Tan and Habri Hammad Mohammad at Amoy Street Food Centre,” said SMS Khor.
“Jonathan adapted his grandfather’s Hokkien braised duck recipe into a halal recipe so the Muslim community can enjoy his food while continuing his grandfather’s legacy.”
You (and the little ones) can be assured that your favourite local snacks won’t go the way of ting-ting candy too. Snack food kiosks are coming to hawker centres.
“Some local snacks are increasingly less commonly-found. Those selling such snacks usually find it difficult to sustain an entire cooked-food stall,” said SMS Khor.
“We will work with SEHC [Socially-conscious Enterprise Hawker Centre] operators to pilot the use of kiosks, which will incur lower rental and operating costs to support the sale of snacks such as muah chee, and putu piring. We hope this will help to preserve these snacks as part of our hawker culture.”
Lots to look forward to at our hawker centres!
Image: MCI, Kin Men Seng Heng / Facebook, IMDA/ YouTube