Vendors said the government's proposal to increase the fine for illegal shop extensions is too much to bear as the current business environment is poor.
The government on Wednesday suggested raising the fines for illegal shop extensions and the unlawful disposal of construction waste from HK$1,500 to HK$6,000, while the penalty for littering will be doubled to HK$3,000.
But some vendors at Tai Yuen Street Market in Wan Chai said they're not happy with the proposal.
A vendor surnamed Lau, who owns a seafood shop there, told RTHK the proposed fine is too high.
"Even if the government insists on raising the fine, it should only increase it by around HK$100 to HK$200. Raising the fine to HK$6,000 is hard to accept as we are already struggling to maintain our livelihood," he said.
An owner of a dried goods stall, surnamed Yeung, also expressed opposition to the proposed increase.
"Business is already poor due to the pandemic. Raising the fine to HK$6,000 may greatly harm our income," he said.
Some shoppers also said the proposed fine is too stiff. "I agree to raising fines, but I think the scale is too big. I feel bad for the affected vendors. Their income is already low, so being fined is very painful for them," a woman surnamed Yim said.
DAB lawmaker Vincent Cheng said higher fines could help crack down on illicit extensions, which he described as an "annoying problem" that has existed for a long time.
"A lot of shop owners [considers] the penalty [as] rent, so they don't take it seriously. We think that if the penalty increases a bit, that can help to solve this kind of issue," he said, adding that enforcement is key to tackling the problem.
On the littering penalty, Cheng said doubling it would add to the hardship of grassroot residents.
He proposed a progressive fixed penalty, which would increase the punishment for repeat offenders.