Restaurants step up to offer budget meals

PETALING JAYA: Offering budget-friendly breakfast and lunch is a way for restaurants to extend a helping hand to the public during tough times as the cost of living continues to go up, said restaurant owners’ associations.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners president J. Govindasamy said restaurants offering budget-friendly menus such as nasi lemak for RM1 is a way for them to help the public.

He added that participating restaurants were fulfilling their corporate social responsibility (CSR) by offering food at low prices.

“This is a further extension of the Menu Rahmah programme, which is aimed at helping the lower-income group during the current difficult times.

“However, offering either budget-friendly breakfast or lunch cannot be done indefinitey, as most restaurants are hardly profitable at the moment,” he said, adding that the cost of raw materials continues to rise and the government must act to lower prices.

Govindasamy said as most restaurants were currently just breaking even, it was critical for the prices of raw materials be reduced as soon as possible, adding that so long as prices of raw materials continue to increase, the prices of food will also go up and it would be the consumers who suffer.

He said the budget-friendly food initiative will not be a long-term plan as it is only a temporary CSR programme until the government comes up with a proper strategy to help the lower-income group, adding that restaurants were willing to forgo some profits for now so that proper meals would be available to cash-strapped individuals.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said even offering budget breakfast fare alone would be regarded as a CSR initiative as the cost of serving just a plate of nasi lemak is about RM9.

“Those who sell below their cost price would likely have very low overheads and the food sold would most likely be very basic as it is aimed primarily at helping people overcome hard times.

“The government’s Menu Rahmah initiative is one such approach, but it does not mean everything can be sold at a low price.
As restaurateurs, we also have to consider our costs.”

Jawahar said he has found that the Menu Rahmah programme is not being abused by the public as from every 1,000 customers, only about 50 to 60 request it.

“The public is aware that the programme is aimed at helping the lower income group who are suffering at the moment, so they do not take advantage of it.”

Jawahar added that his workers have been frequently been asked by customers how the restaurant could sell the same food, which is usually priced between RM10 and RM11,
for only RM5 as the quality and quantity are the same.

“The sale of budget-friendly food is our way of helping people via a CSR initiative, but it does not mean this programme will go on indefinitely.

“This CSR plan will most likely last for three months. We are only trying to help, but we must also look at how long restaurateurs can sustain it before it starts hurting them.”

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