Contributed by RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO –
According to a survey released by Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE), hawker food prices have increased by 10 to 20 per cent since December 2012
In the survey, it was revealed that hawker food like Chicken Nasi Briyani, Chicken Rice, Plain Roti Prata and Economic Mixed Rice (comprising two vegetable dishes and one meat dish), have increased by 10 to 50 Singapore cents as compared to an earlier survey in December 2012.
The cost of living in Singapore is increasing by leaps and bounds, and many Singaporeans are finding it difficult to cope.
I believe most hawkers do not want to increase the prices of the food they sell because they know that if they do so, they may lose customers. But do they really have a choice?
High Rentals Put Hawkers Between A Rock And A Hard Place
The root of the problem lies with the high rentals which hawkers in many places are grappling with. It is never easy being a hawker–one has to spend long and draining hours standing up, bear with the heat from preparing and cooking the food, and clear up their stalls at the end of each day.
If the hawkers charge too low a price, they will not be able to make much profit, but if they charge high prices, customers will not patronise their stalls. Some hawkers in coffee shops had to give up their stalls due to poor business.
Food Courts At Hospitals: A Burden For The Average Patient
Cooked food prices at food courts are much higher. A cup of tea costs $1.50 at food courts, compared to only $1.10 at coffee shops and only $0.90 in some markets.
The majority of local hospitals have air-conditioned food courts, where patients turning up for medical appointments head to for a meal or beverages.
The high prices of food and drinks at food courts located within public hospitals place a financial burden on patients and their caregivers who have no choice but to have their meals at these food courts. We must understand that patients are already paying hefty medical fees when they visit the specialists and collect their medications. Moreover, they have to pay car park charges or expensive taxi fares.
Thus the solution to helping Singaporeans cope with the high cost of living is for the landlords or the operators–be they be from food courts, coffee shops or markets–to reduce rentals. Because at the end of the day when rentals are high, hawkers will have little or no choice but to pass the cost onto the consumers. This is definitely a CASE to look into.
By Raymond Anthony Fernando
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