Boycott ‘expensive’ restaurants? The solution is elsewhere, says UMNO man

NETIZENS are up in arms against each other thanks to the active political divide in the country, but the UMNO Deputy Youth Chief Shahril Hamdan tried to analyse what Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli has said so far about the price of goods and his idea of boycotting ‘expensive’ restaurants.

Shahril said in a video on his Twitter account that the solutions offered by Rafizi, which are to give access to more information to consumers and to boycott restaurants that have increased their food prices to force them to reduce their prices, will not work.

He noted that they are not rational solutions and may work in theory but not in practice, adding that the true solution is far away from ‘squeezing’ restaurant owners and lies in the supply side and a rise in salaries in Malaysia.

In this conclusion to his two-part video explainer, he said the authorities must work on the cost of transporting goods first, giving an example of how the price of chicken in November last year was RM10.07/ kg and it was RM10.21 in December, according to Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM).

This is an example of how, while inflation is down (from 4.8% to 3.8% in December), the prices of some goods were not impacted, he said.

Besides the cost of transportation, which is an important element in the distribution of goods on the market and in the cost-price index basket, the authorities also need to check on the prices from the suppliers.

“The problem is not on the demand side, but on the supply side,” said Shahril.

Moreover, he added that as long as the salary scale in Malaysia remains the same, the problem will never be solved.

At the start of his dissertation, he said what Rafizi has been saying so far about the control of food prices at restaurants, is correct.

“Is it true that the Government cannot control every price of goods?” he asked, adding that it is true the authorities cannot control all prices in Malaysia.

“Rafizi said if we control all prices in Malaysia, we become like a communist nation, and Rafizi is right about that,” he said. And even communist countries apparently can’t control all prices.

What the authorities can control, they will control, like the price of chicken if it’s too high; they will regulate the price.

But when it comes to restaurants, it is practically impossible for the authorities to control the price of the food they sell. Meaning to say that Rafizi is right up to this point.

Rafizi has also suggested that the Government increase user access to information on the prices of food and goods to help consumers decide where they can get their products at a reasonable price.

He said this in a statement on his official Facebook page yesterday (Jan 27), agreeing with Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (PRESMA) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan, who suggested that consumers should be able to compare prices and choose their preferred shops rather than calling for a boycott.

According to Shahril, it is a good idea to have a lot of information in the hands of consumers so they can decide their next steps when they want to eat at restaurants.

However, he said this is only workable in theory, meaning consumers can decide whether to boycott restaurants that sell at higher prices to force them to bring down their menu rates.

Shahril disagrees that these solutions will have an impact on the cost of living because, in economic terms, one person’s expenses are another person’s income. — Jan 28, 2023


Main photo credit: Bernama

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