Double rent 'will force market stalls out of business'
Market stallholders whose rent has been increased by up to 100 per cent staged a protest yesterday, saying the move would force them out of business.
The stallholders at a Regional Services Department market in Wing Fong Road, Kwai Fong, said they would see rents on their 29 stalls increased by 15 to 100 per cent under new valuations by the Rating and Valuation Department.
Ten-year market veteran Lee Ching Lim said: 'The rent of my fruit stall is going up from $2,200 to $5,000, and I only manage to earn about $100 to $200 a day. It is impossible for me to afford the new rent.' Jewellery stallholder Ng Siu Fung, 45, said: 'My business has been down by 70 per cent ever since the economic crisis and it still has not recovered. And now the Government wants to double the rent.' But Roger Cheung, information officer of the Regional Services Department, said: 'The rent they are paying was set in 1995. The Government did consider the hardship brought by the economic downturn, otherwise the increase would be higher.' But Leung Kwong-cheong, vice-chairman of the Provisional Regional Council's environmental hygiene select committee, said: 'Whatever the reason, I find such massive increases utterly unacceptable.'