Oral Reply by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Impact on Hawkers’ Earnings and Affordability
Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) what data has the Ministry obtained regarding the quantitative impact on earnings faced by hawkers due to inflation in electricity and ingredient prices and restrictions on dining-in; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider additional support measures to cushion the impact on (i) hawkers and (ii) low-income groups who rely on affordable hawker food.
1 Some hawkers have shared that they have been affected by the rising prices of electricity and key ingredients such as cooking oil and eggs, caused by the disruption of global supply chains and food production. Hawkers were also affected by the restrictions on dining-in due to COVID-19. However, the footfall of hawker centres has been improving following the easing of Safe Management Measures, and is expected to further improve with more employees returning to their workplaces and the opening up of Singapore to travel from overseas under the Vaccinated Travel Framework.
2 We do not keep track of hawkers’ earnings as they are self-employed persons. Nevertheless, we are constantly monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the global situation on hawkers and have been providing various forms of support. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the Government provided hawkers with 10 months of rental waiver and 6 months of subsidies for table-cleaning and centralised dishwashing services in 2020 and 2021, as well as a one-off cash payout of $500 under the Market and Hawker Centre Relief Fund in 2021.
3 As announced at Budget 2022, the Government will be providing further support under the Small Business Recovery Grant this year. SFA-licensed operators and stallholders in hawker centres, markets, coffeeshops, food courts and canteens will receive $1,000 for each local employee receiving mandatory CPF contributions, capped at $10,000. Those without local employees will receive a flat payout of $1,000. Eligible hawkers will be notified by IRAS from June 2022 onwards. This will provide some support to our hawkers during this period of inflationary pressure. Hawkers who continue to face financial difficulties can approach the National Environment Agency or the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) for assistance.
4 The Government recognises the impact of rising costs on low-income households. Families who need support for their basic living expenses can approach MSF’s Social Service Offices (SSOs). The SSOs will continue to exercise flexibility when providing ComCare assistance to help households cope with their daily living expenses, such as food costs. The five Community Development Councils (CDCs) will also be launching the CDC Vouchers Scheme again. This is one of the schemes announced at Budget 2022 to support Singaporean families in managing their daily expenses under the 2022 Household Support Package. Each Singaporean household will receive $100 worth of CDC vouchers this year. The Government will continue to monitor and review the impact of inflationary pressures on businesses’ operating costs and citizens’ cost of living. The Minister for Finance and Second Minister for Trade and Industry will also be delivering a Joint Ministerial Statement on inflation and business costs at this Parliament Sitting.