I spotted this chicken rice stall in the Kopitiam food court in Greenridge Shopping Centre which sells chicken rice for $5.00. How unaffordable, how unbelievably expensive this plate of chicken rice is!

Yet, this is one of the few options left in that Kopitiam food court, as many other stalls are empty, too.

I care about food costs. They make up a substantially large amount of our day-to-day spending.

Food costs are supposed to make up roughly around 22 per cent of our cost, if defined under the Department of Statistics Consumer Price Index weightage .

Low-wage workers, making up 10 per cent of our population, earn less than $1,100 as defined by the National Wages Council.

For these people, there are times when dining out is necessary because of various reasons.

However, $5 is definitely unaffordable. The average price of a main dish should be around $2.50 or so. Factor in the costs of running an air-conditioned eatery, and you should get around $3.50 for chicken rice in food courts.

Indeed, $3.50 was the original price of the chicken rice three months back. But since then, prices have shot up to $5.00, as seen in the photo.

At the nearby new Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre, food is sold at more affordable prices for residents, especially those in great need.

With the new hawker centre, there will be a substitution effect, where the stalls will move from Greenridge Shopping Centre to the new hawker centre, leaving the Greenridge Kopitiam food court empty. It would impact Bukit Panjang residents.

Kopitiam, the food court operator, could afford to hold out on rentals and not budge.

It may be a business decision to leave the stalls empty to maintain high rents in Greenridge Kopitiam, but to residents around Greenridge Shopping Centre, it would mean having no affordable food options in the HDB-run shopping mall.

I hope the relevant parties will look into the matter and think of better solutions for Bukit Panjang residents staying nearby who look for more affordable food in the shopping centre.

Timothy Todd

Article first appear on The Online Citizen

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