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January 20, 2014

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Plan to target illegal restaurant landlords

LANDLORDS renting premises to illegal food stalls and restaurants should be heavily fined, it was proposed on the opening day of the annual session of the Shanghai People’s Congress yesterday.

This would help crack down on unlicensed vendors as they pose a major food safety risk, the congress heard.

Restaurants and food stalls without licenses account for more than 30 percent of the city’s eateries, but local authorities are failing to tackle the problem effectively, said Wu Fengfei, Party secretary of Beicai Town in the Pudong New Area and a legislator.

“It’s always unclear whether the authorities from industry and commerce, food safety inspection, urban management or police should take prime responsibility for managing these stalls,” Wu said.

Some 20 percent of complaints about food last year concerned illegal restaurants, mostly in suburban areas, she added.

Currently, illegal vendors can be fined between 20,000 yuan (US$3,305) and 500,000 yuan for opening restaurants or food stalls without a license.

But this is ineffective as vendors simple tell law enforcement officers that they don’t have the money, legislators heard.

Many illegal vendors rent small apartments, setting up restaurants on the first floor and living on the second floor, making it difficult for law enforcement officers to move them on, legislators heard.

To tackle these problems, the authorities should more severely punish landlords renting premises to vendors, Wu said.

Others vendors operate from tricycles or mobile stalls and can resume business quickly after officers leave.

It should be clarified which city government department is responsible for tackling these problem, she added.

Her proposal gained the support of dozens of legislators.

The city government has tackled more than 2,700 cases of illegal stalls and restaurants in the last two years, but they remain a major problem.

Recently, the Pengpu night market formerly in Zhabei District has been resurrected in Baoshan District with the same vendors after Zhabei law enforcement officials removed illegal stallholders blamed for creating traffic jams.



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