Menu Rahmah is not the answer

05 Feb 2023 03:47pm
For illustration purpose
For illustration purpose
SHAH ALAM - Remember the Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia (MR1M) which was launched in 2011 by the then Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Ministry, aimed at reducing the burden of the people dealing with soaring prices.

The programme was an ambitious initiative to fight the rising cost and assist the needy.

It attracted more than 1,000 outlets in its first two months who jumped on the bandwagon hoping to make it as part of the corporate social responsibility by offering meals ranging from RM2 to RM5.

Alas! the eateries that were offering this MR1M found out later they could only survive for one year due to rising prices of raw material.

Infact the then Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Noorul Hassan Saul Hameed said that most restaurant owners who participated in the program could no longer afford to provide cheap set meals to their customers.

As such one need to ask will the government latest initiative, Menu Rahmah will end the same way.

It is said the cost of preparing a set of ready-to-cook meals containing rice, vegetables and fried chicken is as much as RM5.68.

Add to that, is the need to be take into account other incidental cost of water, electricity, energy, gas, oil and manpower.

This is the most basic calculation because the price of food in each store is different in terms of business location, cost of ingredients and produce, and cost of rental.
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While it may be possible for supermarket operators who are already selling the necessary fresh produce for the ingredients and selling the RM5.00 meals in their own premise and rent free, it is however not going to be possible for most eateries.

Operators open eateries to make profit and not for corporate social responsibility.

Even now, the operators are lamenting the increase in prices of fresh produce. Even vegetables have seen a 100% to 150% increase. The hard fact is prices are rising and will only rise further.

Instead of Menu Rahmah, it is better for the government to find ways to tackle rising cost, cut off or reduce dependency on middlemen, providing subsidies for farmers and even where necessary to permit imports of produce to stabilise prices.

It won’t be long for the needy and particularly the B40 to realise a family of five spending RM25 a meal, works out even more expensive and is even more hard on the wallet.

Perhaps, the government can come up with menu ideas for RM5.00 or RM10.00 which can feed a family of five. Now, that will be Menu Rahmah.

The Menu Rahmah may be nothing but a feel good initiative which will run its course and simply end up just like Menu Satu Malaysia or Menu Keluarga Malaysia.

The government should come up with better solutions and not bandaid measures.

Norman Fernandez is a lawyer.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.