Oral reply by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamentary Question on Hawkers, on 5 May 2020
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources since the start of circuit breaker measures (a) how many stallholders operating in hawker centres managed by NEA and NEA-appointed operators have closed their hawker stalls due to a drop in business; (b) how many hawkers have embraced food delivery options and applied for Enterprise Singapore’s Food Delivery Booster Package and NEA’s one-off $500 funding; and (c) what are the reasons cited by hawkers for not using the food delivery platforms despite the grants.
1 Since the start of the Circuit Breaker measures, we have observed that about 20-30% of cooked food stallholders have chosen not to operate their stalls. Some stallholders, particularly those in the Central Business District, have chosen not to operate their stalls as the office crowd has thinned and business has fallen. Others like older stallholders have also temporarily closed their stalls. We have earlier announced our support for hawkers with 3 months of rental waivers, as well as one month of subsidies to defray table-cleaning and centralised dishwashing costs. We will continue to support hawkers to ensure that they need not pay for these services during the extended Circuit Breaker period.
2 Food delivery services can help to open up a new revenue stream for hawkers, especially during this Circuit Breaker period.While the demand for food delivery services has generally increased during this period, there are hawkers who remain hesitant in subscribing to such services. Some may not be aware of the various options available or find the commission costs charged by more popular platforms prohibitive. Others may be unfamiliar with and resistant to adopting new technology solutions.
3 NEA and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) have launched initiatives to support hawkers in adopting food delivery services. The Food Delivery Booster Package by ESG was introduced at the start of the Circuit Breaker period so that F&B establishments, as well as hawkers, can enjoy 5% off the prevailing commission rates charged by the major food delivery platforms and 20% lower delivery costs if they engage third-party logistics players. NEA also introduced a one-time funding assistance of S$500 for hawkers who adopt food delivery services, and has been reaching out to hawkers to encourage adoption. As of today, some 600 applications have been received for this scheme. We encourage more hawkers to make full use of this funding to set up an additional revenue stream during this challenging period. To facilitate this, we have decided to extend the availability of this S$500 assistance by one month, to end of June 2020.
4 Over the longer term, we recognise that the model for food delivery services, including the commission structures, would need to evolve if they are to be attractive to hawkers. These models must strike a balance among all parties in the food delivery services ecosystem, including hawker, delivery person and platform operator. We are heartened that ground-up initiatives such as Hawkers United and SG Dabao have emerged in recent weeks; these help hawkers to advertise their food for delivery or pick-up.There are also smaller operators with newer models that allow users to aggregate orders within a hawker centre and do not impose direct commissions on the hawker food.I encourage other established companies to review their business models to see how hawker food delivery can be a complementary and integral part of their broader suite of services.