Raise wages of workers in food sector but lower rentals of operators: Chee Soon Juan

Singapore — The authorities should lower rental charges as part of plans to introduce a Progressive Wage Model in the food sector. This was the call by opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Dr Chee Soon Juan in a Facebook post on Friday (Feb 5).
“The PAP (People’s Action Party) is considering introducing the Progressive Wage Model (aka minimum wage) in the food sector for cooks, servers, kitchen help, etc.,” wrote Dr Chee on Facebook . “But Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad is already warning that diners may have to pay more when eating out.”
Dr Chee called the trade-off as “nonsense”, noting such increase in costs to operators can be offset by reducing rent, which forms a considerable chunk of the operating expenses of a business.
Dr Chee highlighted that the food and beverage sector had been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is also the impending Goods and Services Tax hike to consider, he added.
“Implementing the PWM policy in the food sector will kill off even more eateries. And as if things are not expensive enough for Singaporeans already,” he said.
“But, as always, it is the big chains (mainly foreign-owned) that can survive such added costs.”
Dr Chee noted that it would be the local mom-and-pop outlets, including many hawkers,  that will suffer. “And we wonder why we can’t produce more local entrepreneurs.”
The SDP leader had touched on the issue of high rent, which was “killing businesses in Singapore”, in an earlier Facebook post. He compared various businesses leaving the market with high costs as a reason for the closures.
“It’s like this, the PAP grabs 99 of the 100 peanuts on the table and makes us (small business owners, workers and consumers) fight for that one remaining peanut,” he said.
Dr Chee said: “Let’s raise wages for our workers, the food sector, and otherwise. But let’s not penalise small business owners. Instead, let’s call for lower rent in Singapore. Let’s get smart.” / TISG
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