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Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at the Inauguration Ceremony of FRCBMA's 82nd EXCO

Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at the Inauguration Ceremony of FRCBMA's 82nd EXCO

Mr Hong Poh Hin, Chairman, Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association,


Distinguished guests, 


Ladies and gentlemen,


Introduction

 

1. Good evening. I am pleased to join you today at the inauguration ceremony for the Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association’s (FRCBMA) 82nd Executive Committee.

 

2. Today, the association represents over 400 coffee shops in Singapore, which I believe is more than one-third of the coffee shops in Singapore. We are all familiar with the “kopi tiam” in our neighbourhood. Many of these coffee shops, which are in the heartlands, form a central thread of Singapore’s social fabric and daily life. The “kopi tiam” is where we have our favourite comfort food – from kaya toast and kopi C, to mee siam and roti prata. Itis also a place where we catch up with our neighbours and friends.  For these reasons and more, coffee shops are iconically Singaporean and close to our hearts.


Impact of COVID-19 on Food Services sector

 

3. Over the past two and a half years, the Food Services sector battled several waves of disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a challenging time, but many F&B business merchants like you displayed great tenacity. You have adapted quickly, pivoted to new modes of operation, and repositioned yourselves for growth.   


  1. Your adoption of technology has helped widened your customer reach. Many stall owners who were initially unfamiliar with technology have taken the brave step of going digital. Today, it is common to see e-payment platforms like PayNow and PayLah at coffee shops. Customers can also order food from coffee shops to be delivered via platforms like GrabFood and Foodpanda. We are very proud of your resilience and transformation. Well done! 

  2. Larger players like Chang Cheng supplied bento meals to support foreign worker dormitories during the Circuit Breaker period. They optimised the operations of coffee shop stalls by supplying ready-to-cook products, which also reduced the stalls’ manpower needs. 

  3. Some companies have embarked on projects to automate their operations to raise efficiency. For example, with the support of the Enterprise Development Grant, Kimly has adopted the use of automated equipment in its central kitchen to replace manual food preparation processes. Yummy Palace reduced manpower needs by using food delivery robots to serve customers their orders. 


Immediate Challenges

 

4. With a lot of hard work and determination, our local businesses have emerged stronger from the pandemic. However, economic headwinds are blowing our way from different parts of the world.  


  1. Businesses and households are facing rising costs due to a confluence of factors, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as the pandemic situation in several parts of the world. These have worsened the disruptions to supply chains and led to higher global commodity prices, particularly for energy and food. 

  2. Global inflation is expected to remain high and may even increase further before stabilising. 

  3. We must brace ourselves for higher prices over the next few months, including energy prices, which are likely to remain elevated over the second half of the year. 

5. We understand and are keenly aware that businesses are anxious about cost pressures. The Government will help to cushion near-term energy cost increases as well as provide additional support for local businesses with cash flow concerns. 

  1. We have brought forward the disbursement of the Small Business Recovery Grant, to provide one-off cash support of up to $10,000 per firm to small businesses most affected by COVID-19 restrictions. The disbursement was done in the last week of June. Over 40,000 eligible businesses have received the grant. 

  2. We will co-fund efforts by SMEs to be more energy efficient, through a new Energy Efficiency Grant. The grant will run from September this year to March next year and will provide SMEs from the Food Services, Food Manufacturing and Retail sectors with up to 70% support to adopt energy-efficient equipment in the pre-approved categories. 

  3. In addition, we have enhanced the Government’s co-funding share of wage increases for low-wage workers and other vulnerable workers. Under the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS), we have increased our co-funding share for wage increases in 2022 from 50% to 75% for wages up to $2,500, and 30% to 45% for wages above $2,500 and up to $3,000.

  4. We have also extended the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) for another six months – till March 2023 – to sustain support for employers of mature workers, people with disabilities, and ex-offenders. 

 

6. Government has also injected close to $250 million into supporting local businesses, through the CDC Vouchers Scheme 2021 and 2022, launched in December 2021 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and in May 2022 by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong respectively.

 

7. I am delighted to share that CDC Voucher Scheme which aims to help households with their daily expenses, continues to be well received and widely used by Singaporeans. As of today, over 86.8% or 1.06 million Singaporean households have claimed their 2022 CDC Vouchers.  The first tranche of CDC Vouchers Scheme launched last December also saw a rise, with over 96.8% or 1.18 million Singaporean households claiming their 2021 CDC Vouchers. 

 

8. In terms of the amount spent, over $101m has been spent using the 2021 CDC Vouchers, and about $62m has been spent using the 2022 CDC Vouchers.

 

9. Collectively, more than $163m has been spent with the 2021 and 2022 tranches of CDC Vouchers.  Of this amount, more than $27m or 16.6% of the vouchers was spent in 2,800 stalls from 677 coffee shops.

 

10. To date, we have more than 17,700 participating merchants and hawkers onboard the CDC Voucher Scheme, of which 1 in 6 are stalls in coffee shops. I want to assure you that the Government will be giving every Singaporean household two more tranches of CDC vouchers. For the next two tranches, it will be $200, one tranche in 2023 and another in 2024. 


Moving Forward 

 

11. Beyond these support measures, the Food Services sector needs to continue to transform and adopt solutions to future-proof its offerings.


  1. We launched the Food Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025 earlier this year, which focuses on growth strategies such as driving digitalisation and catalysing innovation. In line with the ITM, we will also be launching a refreshed Food Services Industry Digital Plan to guide businesses in using advanced technologies to support their digital transformation. 

12. I strongly encourage our businesses to continue their transformation journey. Keep on innovating to capture new growth opportunities!

13. Before I conclude, allow me to say a few words in Mandarin.

14. 尊敬的新加坡福州咖啡酒餐商公会 洪宝兴主席,各位公会同仁,各位嘉宾,大家晚上好!

15. 咖啡店文化和小贩文化一样,是新加坡文化重要的一部分,也是我们生活中不可缺少的基本服务,没有咖啡店的新加坡,是难以想象的。早上没有一杯热腾腾、香喷喷的传统咖啡,相信许多员工都无法开工,工作效率和生产力会大受影响。遍布全国大大小小的咖啡店,不但为大家带来经济又美味的三餐,也同时是街坊邻居聚会聊天的好地方、老地方;更是我们的情感联络站。许多居民都有“属于自己”的咖啡店,和店主和摊主,更是从老顾客变成老朋友,为社区带来浓浓的人情味。

16. 福州咖啡酒餐商公会,代表大约400家咖啡店业主,是本地最大的咖啡酒餐商公会,公会成立于1921年,一百多年来为提升咖啡店的服务水平,发扬咖啡店文化做出积极的贡献。在此,我要特别恭贺洪宝兴BBM,荣任会长!祝愿福州咖啡酒餐商公会在您的领导下,百尺竿头更进一步,美食更美味,咖啡更香浓。

17. 近期,冠病疫情所带来的供应链问题,以及欧洲的战乱,造成了食品和能源价格的波动,包括咖啡店业者在内的食品服务行业,都受到了影响。

18. 面对各方面的挑战,希望福州咖啡酒餐商公会能够聚集同仁的力量,大家共享资源,分享一些能够维持高水准服务的最佳办法,齐心协力共同度过难关。

19. 政府方面,我们聆听了餐饮业者所面对的挑战,并宣布了7000万元的餐饮和零售业振兴配套,除了大家熟悉的补贴和援助配套,我们也在今年五月中旬,推出了“食品服务行业转型计划2025” ,希望进一步推动食品创新,带动更多本土品牌走向区域化,满足消费者对便利、健康和可持续食品的要求。

20. 另外,相信大家对社理会邻里购物券不会陌生,社理会邻里购物券的其中一个目的,就是为帮助邻里商家和小贩,政府为这个计划总共投入了近2亿5000万元,分别在2021年12月和2022年5月,推出了两轮的邻里购物券。

21. 我很高兴的和大家分享,截至2022年7月11日,超过2千700万元的消费,是在677家咖啡店里的2,800多个茶水和小贩摊位使用的,占邻里购物券总消费额的百分之16.6。

22. 接下来,政府将分别在2023年和2024年,为每户新加坡家庭提供200元的邻里购物券。我们希望更多咖啡店及摊位,加入社理会邻里购物券计划。今天,我有两名人民协会的同事Kar Yee和Patsy在现场,大家可以向她们了解参加计划的细节。

23. 俗话说,民以食为天,食品服务业和餐饮业可说是一个永远充满契机的行业。“民以食为天”,下面还有三句话,那就是:食以安为先、安以质为本、质以诚为根。归根结底,食品的安全,质量的保障,以及对诚信的坚持,将能确保餐饮业的可持续发展。维持透明公道的价格,也是诚信的一部分,希望各位福州咖啡酒餐商公会同仁,共同致力于维护咖啡酒餐商的良好信誉,让咖啡店继续成为国人用餐的好地方,聚会的老地方。

Conclusion

 

24. On this note, I would like to thank the outgoing committee for your unwavering dedication. You have helped our Food Services sector weather through the uncertainty and storms, especially during the pandemic.

 

25. To the new Committee members, congratulations on your appointments. I look forward to your continued efforts and wish you every success in leading the association to greater heights.

 

26. Thank you.  

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