Mixed response to rent review offer
The rent offer drew a mixed response from shopkeepers, with those ineligible for reductions vowing to fight on.
Sweet-shop owner Fung Tung-chau said he paid monthly rent of $12,000 for a 140 square foot stall in Tsing Yi Cheung Fat market but thought a reasonable amount was 'no more than $6,000'.
About 100 market shopkeepers went on strike on Monday, demanding a 30 per cent cut on top of the rent freeze this year. Only half of them renewed their contracts at the right time to benefit from yesterday's offer.
Market union chairman Wong Yin-kai was not eligible.
'My contract is due in July, and the authority is raising my rent by 16 per cent next year,' he complained. 'I'll fight on until I get my $15,000 rent cut.' Housing Department manager Patty Poon Po-sum said shopkeepers were subject to differing treatment because those signing the contract in 1996 faced a different economic climate then. 'The scheme is not a definite bonus, shopkeepers may already be paying less than market rent.'