Thursday, September 21, 2023

Rafizi not wrong on eating out

Economic Minister, Rafizi is getting lots of brickbat for saying Malaysians' habit and addiction of eating out is taking a bite out of their income. He is not wrong in his assessment. In fact, this blogger have taken the same position for quite a long time. 

Its just his bad luck for sharing an unpopular view in the midst of social media getting back at "Minister Formula" for his GST statement to reintroduce the cancelled tax regime. Indirectly, he admitted wrong for his past criticism of Dato Najib for implementing the GST.  

To be fair, eating out is a different issue and its indicative of  Malaysians negative habit to complain and in-denial of reality. 

To Malaysians, particularly urbanites, spending quality family time is equated with eating out. This compares with middle American preference for family cookout. 

During our college days abroad and staying with Americans, the student there diligently cook. It is unlike local students who prefers to eat at stalls or warongs. 

Perhaps, eating out in Malaysia is not as expensive and preparing Malaysia's tasty and flavourful dishes can be time consuming. 

Still, it is more expensive and being wasteful is something traditional budget conscience Malaysian mums disdain on. 

The Star discussed the issue today:        

Eating out a hidden cost


NATION Thursday, 21 Sep 2023

PETALING JAYA: With the cost of living rising faster than Malaysians’ income, eating out and getting takeaway food is not always pocket-friendly.

However, economists say it has become the hidden cost of working, as eating out or ordering takeout is the most viable option for many working Malaysians, especially in urban areas.

This is due to challenges such as lacking time and energy to cook after a gruelling day of work and hours spent travelling to and from the workplace.

To help people reduce their reliance on eating out, experts say the government could give employers better incentives to embrace flexible work arrangements (FWAs) to enable workers to prepare meals at home, improve public transport so that they spend less time commuting, and roll out more initiatives to help them raise their incomes.

Economist Prof Dr Geoffrey Williams of the Malaysia University of Science Technology (MUST) said eating out has become less of a luxury or recreational activity and more of a cost of working due to the high demands of a work life.

“The insistence on long working days and the demands of commuting, for example, mean that many people rely on eating out because they have fewer opportunities to shop, prepare food and eat at home. Therefore, they eat out more often.

“As eating out has become more expensive, it takes up more of their disposable income, and so the cost of living becomes more of a burden.

“It affects everyone who works because it increases the cost of working for individuals,” he said when contacted yesterday.

On Monday, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said that Malaysians have become “addicted” to eating out, and on average, local households spend about one-third of their disposable income on takeaway food, according to his interview with news portal Malaysiakini.

Compared to other economies such as South Korea, Rafizi said Malaysian households spent a higher proportion of their income on takeout and eating out, thus shrinking their already tight disposable income.

He said issues such as public transport also played a part in Malaysians’ reliance on eating out and delivery.

People, he said, especially those in the Klang Valley, spend a lot of time commuting to and from work, leaving them with little time to prepare food after returning home.

Prof Geoffrey said to improve the situation, the government must introduce better incentives to encourage FWAs to work from home (WFH) and even reduce the working week to help people manage time better and give them the opportunity to prepare meals at home.

Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Lee Heng Guie said people are feeling the pinch as food prices have gone up while wages have not caught up with the rising cost of living.

He said that while prices of food ingredients are also rising, it is still cheaper than eating out or getting takeout at restaurants, as there is the service tax, parking fees, transportation or delivery charges to consider.

He added that the savings that the government gets from rolling back subsidies should be used to improve infrastructure such as public transport, healthcare and other initiatives that can help people improve their income.

Economist Prof Dr Chung Tin Fah of HELP University said there are ways for Malaysians to save the income spent on takeaways

They include meal-prepping for the week and putting away a portion of their monthly income.

He also suggested that the government should give sufficient incentives for savings, such as reasonable interest rates.

“If interest rates are high enough, people will save,” he said.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kader said the government must improve public transport and carry out a campaign to encourage home cooking.

“One way of overcoming the problem is to cook some dishes during the weekend, freeze them, take them out, and warm the required amount as you need it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Dr Saravanan Thambirajah said for Rafizi to come to a conclusion, saying that it is an “addiction”, is unfair.

He said the actual reality is that people are juggling the cost of living pressures and work stress while trying to live within their means and stretching their ringgit as far as it can go.

“We can’t compare other countries to Malaysia’s scenario. It’s not apple to apple.

“We hope, rather than pointing to previous policies, that it’s best if the government can improve and build up our economy.

“Look into how to improve our minimum wages and our country’s productivity,” he said.

Read more:

Eating out in Australia eats up a chunk of change for average Joe

It pays to cook your own meals (Poll Inside)

From eating out to the need for better public transportation to give the quality of life and more nutritious food, that's interesting. 

The matter of living is an area government need to have a rethink away from the bigger ideas and strategic talk of the past which usually ended up as another stock market quick buck scheme.  

One reason Rafizi is receiving nasty responses for a fair and logical observation on eating out was also his past remark as opposition. 

He lamented and politicised rising cost of goods. Naturally as opposition, it was anything goes. When he became Economic Minister, he was repeating the same line a former BN Minister, Dato Hasan Malek made over switching to substitute goods.

In the early months of his appointment, he introduced vending machine as a solution to rising cost of food and it became a source of ridicule. It was a bad start as social media dug up on the vendor of the vending machine who happen to be his fellow collegian from MCKK. 

The thinking public was expecting more from Rafizi such as reforming the food supply chain, or cutting bureaucrasy, or elevating local food production with a win-win arrangement to both producers and consumers. So bear the brunt of it, Rafizi

Rafizi attempted to sound more rational than being politically sensational in discussing issues. 

Still old habit dies hard. He could not shed off the addiction to political blame game. And, it will only end up coming back to him. 

The same reminder to PN whose excited over the prospect of a Sheraton move 2.0 or Hadi puts it as tebuk attap (hacking at the roof). Its the same theme of attack on Zahid by picking on AG's DNAA decision and the current explosive issue of rice shortage. 

Watch this blog's commentary on rice shortage and its political implication.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents, Sir.
mind my grammatical error.
Saya tak sekolah tinggi.

Eating out is one of life's pleasures.
Previous govt didn't single out this as it's one of our way of life.
However bad we want to deny that, we're having the notion of being entitled.

Rakyat's expectations from Piji Formula and BangNon are to manage these challenges of increasing living costs based on historical rhetoric from both of them when they were the opposition those years.
Komplen tak habis-habis. Troll tak henti-henti dulu.
Now both are in the govt holding suitable offices - PM, FM, and economic minister for Piji.
So, deliver lah.

Giving excuses is not acceptable!
Blaming the previous govt can only be accepted until it loses its appeal.
Every govt era has its own challenges.
Both BangNon and Piji have the luxury of learning from previous govt mistakes and making better decisions/execution.
Talks in the street, coffee shops, e-hailing services, houses of prayer, etc. are cursing the current govt! And both of their names are being spoken with disgust.

What else after this?
Ikan mahal, jangan beli?
Gula takde, kurangkan makan gula?
Elektrik mahal, jangan pasang airconditioners?
Come on.

PTPTN masih kena bayar.
Petrol takde pun RM1.50/liter.
Toll takde pun free.

During Najib's tenure, despite his shortcomings, the economy was good.
Being in the manufacturing business, I can give months of bonuses yearly to my 200+ staff from 1996, having yearly increments, and some even have promotions. Heck, we even have an annual dinner and long service award event, team building, and office retreat for the management staff.

After 2018, the outflow of FDI was so bad, that the inefficiency of governing and FM Guan Eng set the foundation of a weak economy until today we cannot recover. For the past 4 years, I cannot continue giving out perks to my team! Sales were down by not less than 40% YOY until today.

Ukraine - Russia war escalates the gloomy economy outlook.
Both the above having some impact to the whole world.
I repeat, every govt era has its own challenges.
Manage it. You guys are not working for free.
Gaji dalam govt pulahan ribu kot?

Now, looking at the outlook, the same will continue until the economy stabilizes.
I even have the new worries of still having a job in the next 2-5 years!
So yes, Piji should stop giving excuses and he with BangNon should also stop blaming the previous govt.

Direct the efforts and focus to improve the economy and uplift the current difficulties for the rakyat. If not, leave the job, and give it to others.
Pardon Najib and let him take over the mantle.
Say what you want about him, but under him, our economy prospers.

Apa? Najib corrupt?
Come on.
Which govt in the whole bloody world is not corrupt?

Oct 2023