On Tue (28 Aug.) Makansutra food guru KF Seetoh published an article on his blog that revealed the regrettable state of affairs that has become the whole initiative of the Social Enterprise Hawker Center (SEHC). Many are run as commercial food courts, he noted. His blog quickly went viral.
Contract agreements from peddlers at SEHCs revealed that they pay an average of about $ 4000 per month for rental of stables. Seetoh smoked: "These street vendors in the new hawker centers pay in total (with a laundry list of additional services and costs), an average of $ 4000, more than what it costed the highest bidder in Maxwell Hawker Center – perhaps the most popular hawker center in Singapore – where it fluctuates between two and three thousand dollars a month. "
A hawker told Mr. Seetoh, "Social enterprise hawker centers are not sustainable, just wait, a lot of such hawkers call it quit quickly."
Then there are a number of hidden costs written in the contract agreements, such as the imposition of a gross turnover percentage, costs for washing dishes, collection and return and even a "copper clause" that beach vendors need to pay a "consultant" of $ 600 per month, they have their food quality and functioning checked on the spot.
The best thing is that if the guy fails to pay the $ 600 "consulting fee" on time, he will have to pay 12% interest or "such a higher rate, as set by the Consultant from time to time" for any outstanding amount – aka "Ah Long" style of "O $ P $" but minus the head of the pig and red paint.
Seetoh & # 39; s blog lets the regular media investigate
While the blog of Seetoh went online virally, CNA decided to investigate the case further. It has today published a report (2 September) in which it confirms that some of the controversial costs reported by Seetoh exist.
One of the social enterprises, Fei Siong Food Management, confirmed the existence of the $ 600 monthly inspection service. But Fei Siong said it was "optional." It added that the $ 600 service is for beach vendors who "need help with professional services such as food quality and hygiene audits".
The service is not mandatory for beach vendors, nor is the currency exchange, which the company said, a non-profit service that it offers. Hawkers interviewed however questioned what Fei Siong had told CNA and insisted that the inspection fee of $ 600 was not optional.
"We were told about the compensation in July when our contract expired and it came out of nowhere and they told us it's for the NEA (National Environment Agency) and quality control," said a hawker. The peddler, who does not want to be mentioned, said that he had to agree to the inspection fee because he wanted to continue running the barn.
About a month after he signed the maternity agreement, someone came to inspect his stable. "It was over in a minute, they came in, took a short look at our stable and left, I do not know if that person is from NEA," he said.
Another hawker, who was disgusted with the monthly inspection fee of $ 600, decided not to run his stall any more. "I was asked to continue by signing both agreements or my (hawker) license will not be renewed, I was told that I can not unsubscribe (from inspection service) .If it is optional, why did not one of the stalls have you withdrawn to reduce costs? "he told CNA.
But what was most stressful was that the CNA reporter saw a WhatsApp message that Fei Siong told hawkers that the inspection fee of $ 600 should be mandatory.
Social enterprise operators "bury" us
A hawker, who passes Mr. Yeo, explained: "Ultimately, a NEA Hawker center is still cheaper for beach vendors (than the center for social enterprises). The rent can be comparable to NEA-hawkers, but the add-ons make it more expensive. "
And another peddler condemned the operators of the social enterprise: "It is like digging a hole and asking us to jump in. Then they bury us."
"In order to promote" Hawkerpreneurship ", you have to set up the processes and procedures properly. It should be the same as the operation of NEA-managed hawker centers NEA should have regulated the herd centers of the social enterprise as with the mainstream Hawker centers, "he added.
Motherhood statements from NEA
When CNA approached NEA for comment, NEA said it has "taken steps to ensure that agents (social enterprises) keep food prices and maternity rentals (and other operating costs) affordable".
"Ultimately, the peddling centers run by socially aware operators must have better operations, better service and stable prices, which in turn benefit the consumer," says NEA.
"The government is committed to maintaining the role of Hawker centers as communal dining rooms and will continue to adapt and improve this important social infrastructure so that it remains relevant and attractive to our diverse population."