FRIED turmeric chicken, fried spinach, white rice and a bottle of mineral water, all for RM5.
That’s a great deal, is the verdict on the ground and social media following the introduction of Menu Rahmah, the government’s latest effort to help people withstand high inflation.
Rising food costs is the biggest immediate problem for a world beset by inflation, and that includes Malaysia.
While governments use fiscal policies such as raising, holding or lowering interest rates, and tax and wage measures to mitigate the effects of rising inflation, these are high-level interventions that are largely invisible to the ordinary man in the street, and that will take time to have an effect.Menu Rahmah, on the other hand, appeals directly to people’s pockets and it’s something we can experience instantly.
It’s an astute move by a new government that is obviously going to be popular.
And interestingly, it’s not being paid for with our money so far.
Upon launching Menu Rahmah on Tuesday, Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub said the initiative was made possible “due to the earnest support from stakeholders”.
Stakeholders so far comprise seven food and beverage and retail associations (“Menu Rahmah meal leaves customers satisfied”, The Star, Feb 3; online at bit.ly/star_rahmah).
Lunch and dinner meals at RM5 will be sold at nearly 15,000 food outlets nationwide, and there is talk of including non-halal eateries in the scheme; the programme will also be expanded to Sabah and Sarawak.
It all sounds great.
But, of course, we need more than populist initiatives like these to get the economy on a sound enough footing to make growth sustainable in the long run and protect against future external shocks like the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
We hope that Budget 2023, which will be announced on Feb 24, will offer long-term solutions that will address not only the current problems like inflation, youth underemployment and the value of the ringgit but will also tackle climate change, food security and advancing the digital economy.