The rent freeze for public market stalls ends on June 30th. The government has requested that stalls in public markets pay an annually-adjusted rate. As the rent rate is affected by the increasing Consumer Price Index (A), this year the rent will increase by 2.9%. The DAB and stall-owner representatives both agree that this rent hike will have a large impact on small business owners. However, the government has not consulted with these stall owners but has unilaterally increased the rent, which is just incredibly counterproductive and causes bad optics to the media and general public. Therefore, we feel that:
1.The DAB and representatives from stall owners have held in-depth discussions on the rent system with various stakeholders. Through our understanding of such discussions, stall owners are not against rent increases per se, but the government has started to set up a new rent system whereupon it is impossible for stall owners to know how much the rent will increase each year, adding to their financial uncertainty and making it harder to stay in business.
2.Many stall owners have expressed to the DAB and business stakeholders that they do not understand the new rent system. In actuality, the government has decided to change their policy and give up the long-standing rent system used for public markets, however, they did not consult with stakeholders and the public, and therefore this has made it extremely difficult for the people affected to accept.
3.The government had decreed that stall owners must sign up for the new rent system before late May or else they will automatically lose their stalls in the market. This is extremely unfair to stall owners, to force them to sign an agreement to a rent system they do not fully understand nor support.
1.The government should postpone the implementation of the tweak to the rent policy and hold a full consultation with all stakeholders involved. Allow everybody to fully understand the rent system and its implications, and allow the stakeholders to give their advice and opinions on the policy.
2.Freeze all rents during the aforementioned consultation period.
The government should provide resources to the “Market Management Consultative Committee” to improve the basic facilities and the environment of public markets.
3.Set up joint meeting sessions with public market stakeholders and regularly invite representatives from the ”Market Management Consultative Committee” from each district, government representatives and service workers within public markets to hold meetings and strengthen the channels of mutual communication. This body should then provide advice for related policies and the future development of public markets in Hong Kong.
Legislative Councilor Steven Ho 2682 0155
Legislative Councilor Ben Chan 9274 7035
Legislative Councilor Wilson Or 9546 6221
Vice-Chair of the HKFHA Mr. Lam Fook-Chuen 9866 9406