Vendors dressed as frogs and selling frog toys have become a rage on the streets of some Chinese cities as well as on social networking sites. However, controversy has followed.
Authorities in Shanghai told one such vendor to take off his frog suit and reminded him that it is against the rules for anyone to sell anything at places and times other than those specified by the government in Shanghai.
This triggered more discussion on social networking sites. Some asked for strengthening supervision, saying the vendors were often thronging crowded public places, which could lead to traffic congestion and disruption of public order. Others pitied the vendors, arguing that they are a vulnerable and hardworking group that requires more care from society and the authorities. Besides, as some argued, the frog-like vendors have livened up the atmosphere and injected fun into our humdrum lives.
After three years of sluggish economic growth because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has introduced a number of measures to shore up the economy. Rather than turning on the heat, local governments should find ways to balance city management rules while rejuvenating the street vendor economy.
It is usually difficult for ordinary people to be sure about where and when one can set up stalls. Approaching the authorities for information is of little use as they often pass the buck. In the end, people are confused about who they should turn to. That’s why local governments need to exercise higher level of governance.
Setting up a street stall seems like a minor issue, but many vendors count on them to feed their families.
Local governments can streamline the relevant approval procedure for street vendors, make management and supervision information and rules and regulations easily accessible and clarify the duties and responsibilities of each governance organ. That way the street vendor economy can boost consumption and create jobs. Higher-level and more balanced governance should be provided to help revive this sector and help people in their pursuit for prosperity.
The author is a writer with China Daily.