Friday, 3 June 2016

"Competition red hot for food trucks with 192 bids for licence" June 3

[Letter to South China Morning Post]

Greg So, our Commerce and Economic Development Secretary, recently made a "duty visit" to London, to look at the operations of their food trucks, in preparation for the Hong Kong roll-out.

It would seem he learnt nothing while in there.

London food trucks are already operating very successfully based on clear and simple guidelines. Meantime Hong Kong's nascent scheme is already mired in a bureaucratic bog. ("Competition red hot for food trucks with 192 bids for licence" June 3).

Why are only 16 licenses available? Even as a trial number this is ridiculously too few. One street block in Mongkok could accommodate that many.

Yet these 16 will be spread amongst eight districts. That will make them as rare as hen's teeth, hardly the "good tourism project" that Secretary So claims.

Why the complex selection process? First a committee will shortlist applicants then "10 veteran professionals" will make the final choices. The mind boggles.

What's wrong with letting customers decide whose food is delicious and whose is crap?

Allow more truck licenses then it's sink or swim based on what customers want.

Because of all this "central planning" it will take until next year for our very own food trucks to hit the streets. This is insane. The food truck industry is hardly cutting edge rocket science. It is well understood. If the government simply set out the clear guidelines and let 'em at it, (as in London) there would be trucks on the streets next week.

Simon Wong of the Restaurant Federation says this is "Too many monks, too little gruel". And why is that? Because "too many cooks spoil the gruel", to adapt the English saying.

Our government once prided itself on a can-do attitude based on positive non-interventionism. It is sad that it has now sunk to such bathetic bureaucratic bungling.

Peter F