SINGAPORE: Some 2,000 stall holders in markets and food centres are worried about what to do next, now that their contracts are about to end under the Stall Ownership Scheme.
Ms Lee Bee Wah, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and Environment, has urged authorities to solve the problem as soon as possible.
The government launched the Stall Ownership Scheme in 1994 to enable stall holders to own their stalls.
Under the scheme, they could buy the stalls on a 20—year lease at a discount.
Those who declined to buy their stalls could surrender them and opt for cash grants or continue to rent their stalls at a revised rate instead, according to National Environment Agency (NEA).
The scheme was discontinued in 1998.
For the 200 stall holders at Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre, 20 years is almost up and their lease will end by May 2014.
Stall holders told Channel NewsAsia they still prefer to rent and they hope the rates can be lower than that at food courts.
They also said if they have to pay a higher rent, this may drive up food prices.
Ms Lee said she has received several calls for help from affected stall holders. "They are worried about where to continue their business once their lease ends. Some are also concerned they’ll lose their regular customers if they move to a new place. I have relayed these concerns to NEA and I hope they can solve these problems before their lease ends."
Other than Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre, there are about 1,700 stall holders in 14 other markets and food centres who will have to face this issue over the next four years.
In the past, some stall holders have petitioned the government not to tear down their markets and food centres, when the property goes back to the government.
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