PAP Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has took to Facebook to respond to a fishball noodle hawker’s complaint that hawkers like him cannot offer cheap food because of rental, GST, utility bills and high manpower overheads.

Photo from thestraitstimes
Photo from thestraitstimes

The Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Vivian Balakrishnan, however responded saying that rental is cheap and only “a small fraction” of running a hawker stall:

“There have always been questions about rental rates. The reality is that rentals constitute a small fraction of the overall cost of running a hawker stall. The major cost drivers are actually ingredients and manpower.”

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also claimed that his Ministry has reduced rental costs by as low as S$10 a month in some stalls:

“There are 3 things we have done to reduce rental costs for hawkers:
(1) We increased the supply of hawker stalls by building new centres.
(2) Hawker stalls now have to be personally operated. They are not a way for landlords to make money. We did this by removing the practice of assignments and subletting. This removed speculation from hawker rentals.
(3) We abolished the concept of “reserve rent” for hawker stalls. In the past, NEA would reject tender bids which were less than 85% of the assessed market rent. NEA now accepts all valid competitive bids. Some stalls have been rented for as low as $10 a month.”

Screenshot from Facebook
Screenshot from Facebook

The typical hawker work 10 hours a day, everyday, with no bonus or medical leaves. They typically earn around S$2,500 to S$3,000 after overheads. Hawker stall rental like Bedok South, is average around S$500 to S$700 a month to NEA. There are hawker stalls who pay around S$2,000 to S$4,000 in good locations like Holland Village.

The salaries of stall assistants are typically less than S$1,200 to S$1,700 with working hours up to 60 hours a week.

It appears that Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is only referring to NTUC Foodfare hawker centre and not the general hawker centres.