Ministry looking at ways to help traders wishing to offer Menu Rahmah

Salahuddin presenting Bakul Rahmah food baskets after launching the Menu Rahmah initiative offered by Tea Garden in Taman Perling, Johor Baru. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

THE Menu Rahmah programme, which offers meals at RM5 and below, has been well-received but some are calling for more diversity among the traders offering the option.

When asked about his ministry’s efforts to attract multi-racial traders to the initiative, Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub indicated he was mulling collaborating with local governments to better assist those who wanted to participate.

He also wants his ministry to help traders and business owners who face issues with local councils and district offices.

“I am thinking about engaging with local governments to show appreciation to those who join the Menu Rahmah programme, which ultimately benefits the people,” Salahuddin said after launching the Menu Rahmah initiative by Tea Garden in Taman Perling, Johor.

When contacted, Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said local councils should be allowed to issue temporary licences to traders to set up roadside stalls to sell Menu Rahmah items as this will help cut down on operating costs.

“Other stakeholders such as fresh food producers, fishermen and poultry farmers that are indirectly involved should also be roped in to offer their items at discounted prices to traders who want to join the programme.

“This allows food operators to maintain their RM5 meals without having to cut the portions or sacrifice quality.”

Sivakumar said the ministry should provide banners and plaques to participating outlets to attract more merchants to join the initiative.

“The ministry should monitor and ensure that participating outlets commit to the initiative for at least one year to prevent them from dropping out once the hype is over,” he added.

Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCCI) president Low Kueck Shin said some traders were hesitant to join the initiative due to the high cost of raw materials.

“Many merchants are in a tight financial situation while others are still in the beginning stages of business recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“To support the government’s initiative, JBCCCI recently held discussions with trade groups such as the Johor Baru Small Businesses Association, Johor Baru Coffee, Restaurant and Bar Operators Association, and South Johor Hawkers and Petty Traders Association.

“At least 20 food operators in Johor Baru, Skudai and Pasir Gudang have pledged to start offering meals priced at RM5 and below,” he elaborated.

Low said the participating outlets included seafood, Chinese and western restaurants as well as street vendors serving dishes such as fried rice and wantan noodles.

He noted that during the pandemic, many eateries lowered the prices of their meals while some vegetarian restaurants and temples even gave away food.

“We hope more eateries can continue this charitable spirit and participate in the initiative to offer Menu Rahmah dishes to benefit consumers, especially those in the B40 bracket,” he added.

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