It is undeniable that the F&B industry has taken a huge hit in terms of business in light of the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions. Much has been done to alleviate the worries of struggling business owners, especially hawkers; many of whom have yet to join the heavily-saturated food delivery scene.
Minister for Communications and Information (MCI) Josephine Teo acknowledged the problems posed by an influx in consumers opting for food delivery options. The National Environment Agency (NEA) also incentivised hawkers who engage third-party logistics by providing a one-time funding of S$500 to offset delivery costs.
The necessity of hawkers to go digital has increased despite their hesitation. Members of the community have voiced their support and plans to tapau from elderly hawkers, and the government has worked in tandem to offer their assistance by providing the infrastructure to offer hawker food on delivery platforms.
Straits Times Associate Editor Chua Mui Hoong acknowledged that barriers to entry faced by hawkers included being unable to afford the hefty 30% commission due to low profit margins. Despite this, public and private partners are being recruited to help hawkers facilitate a smooth transition to online delivery and e-ordering platforms.
Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Amy Khor, added that government assistance also included a partial waiver of stall rentals in May and June for around 6,000 cooked food stallholders in hawker centres managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators.
Table-cleaning and centralised dishwashing services were also subsidised, but hawkers hope that the steep commission rates for delivery platforms will also be subsidised as hawkers slowly change longstanding practices.
The implementation of the Seniors Go Digital programme supports the adoption of digital tech amongst elderly, provides financial assistance for devices and data plans, and equips them with necessary skills through small group learning sessions at libraries and community centres.
Even as digitalisation takes place and more hawkers integrate online delivery platforms and e-payment methods into their daily operations, it is important that they are backed by both the community and the government’s support.
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