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Ministry To Coordinate Setting Up Of Model Restaurants

Source: Vientiane Times

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce plans to establish model restaurants in the Lao capital of Vientiane that will serve single dishes at prices set by the authorities.

The outlets will sell a fixed quantity of noodle soup, fried rice and steamed rice with other ingredients for 15,000 kip.  

The project is part of measures to control the price of food and to support tourism in the country. It also aims to provide cheap meals to consumers.

An official of the Ministry told Vientiane Times yesterday that authorities will coordinate with entrepreneurs to establish at least two shops for selling single-dish meals at prices set by the authorities.

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The ministry is hoping this business model will encourage others to follow.  It is expected the model restaurants will be established by the end of this year. The State will provide them some facilities, such as issuing food and drug and model shop certificates, shop signs and sources to access ingredients at wholesale prices.

This plan is also part of the implementation of a pilot project for setting the prices for single dishes in Vientiane. The ministry made an announcement in the regard on May 23, 2018 and a three-month project was implemented to seek solutions for food price control.   

According to a report from the Ministry, the pilot project focused on a menu of noodle soup, fried rice and steamed rice with other ingredients sold at reasonable prices. The project aimed to provide three benefits – first, consumers could eat quality foods at suitable prices; second, businesses were sure to make some profits; and third, the government could collect taxes and create a positive atmosphere for tourism.

The project was implemented in all nine districts of Vientiane and it received positive feedback from consumers and good cooperation from entrepreneurs.   

A vendor, who provide a menus of single dishes at her shop in Sikhottabong district in Vientiane, said yesterday that she charges 15,000 kip a dish from customers.

She said that she had operated her restaurant for three years and this price had remained the same.

She can sell her food at this price because she does not have lease a shop like others who run restaurants. It is harder for those who rent a shop to sell foods at such low prices.   

The vendor said she earns some profits even though she sells the food at low prices. At the moment, the raw materials and ingredients such as pork or vegetables have become more expensive, she said.

According to a report of the ministry, there are 325 shops in eight districts (excluding statistics for Chanthabouly district). They all sell single dishes, and 284 of them sell food with prices ranging  between 8,000kip and 15,000 kip. These shops account for 87.4 percent of all the restaurants. These prices can be found at shopping centres, food courts at hospitals, markets and communities.

There are only 41 shops they sell their dishes for more than 15,000 kip because they have to pay expensive rents and have other expenses for air conditioning, electricity and water supply bills, high wages, ingredients and expensive raw materials and high taxes.

The report mentioned that the prices of food and drinks are very expensive in Laos, especially when compared to rates in neighbouring countries such as Thailand. This has become a key problem and has been debated in society. The situation has also impacted low and middle-income people, including tourists.