Jurong West Hawker Oct 2018; Straits Times

The Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA) yesterday (Nov 16) announced that the government will be giving a generous 50% subsidies for cleaning fees to hawker stall owners who contract with the “Smart Nation” hawker centres next year in 2019, and a 30% subsidies in 2020.

From 2019, hawker stall owners at one of the “Smart Nation” hawker centres, Tampines Hub, will get a government funding of S$350 monthly, or half the amount of the cleaning charges. The subsidies will wean off to S$210 monthly in 2020.

The bailout came after the Lee Hsien Loong-driven “Smart Nation” hawker centres, also known as “social enterprise”, see diving profits as Singaporeans boycott the hawker centres for “Smart Nation” initiatives like a mandatory tray-return deposit. Hawker stall owners at the “Smart Nation” food centres start leaving in droves due to very poor crowd response.

In April this year, one of the “Smart Nation” hawker centres, Yishun Park, saw 8 hawker stall owners quitting the social enterprise in less than six months after setting up.

Hawker stall owners at these government food centres have also complained about the “social enterprise” hawker centres profiting from exorbitant rents, cleaning charges and other unreasonable charges for unwarranted services like “tray deposit return”, “cleanliness inspection” and “mobile phone application discount”.

Many were also forced to sign unfair contracts like a mandatory 6-day work week, and a compulsory clause to depress their food prices to help attain the government’s promise of cheap hawker food.