Myanmar restaurants seek more govt support

 

LOCAL restaurants in Myanmar are calling for more government support amid the expansion of international restaurant chains in the country.

Nay Linn, president of Myanmar Restaurants Association and the owner of a restaurant named Sein Lan So Pyay Gardens, said local players lack the capital and experience to compete with these chains. He recalled a member’s unfortunate experience in attempting to rent a building. The restaurateur lost the bid to an international player who offered double the price.

“Most local restaurants are family-owned businesses or small and medium enterprises. How can we compete with international players?” he said.

He urged the government to issue regulations demanding all new restaurants to become members of the MRA or seek the association’s recommendation, so that the MRA can standardise food safety and hygiene. He also urged the government to lease empty land plots to the MRA, which could be turned into food courts to support small members.

Established five years ago and having nearly 500 members now, the MRA aims to help its members share their knowledge and expertise as well as support them when they face difficulties. Nay Linn expects to welcome 200 more members from now until next year, thanks to the bright tourism outlook.

Nay Zaw Aung, the MRA secretary-general and owner of Dolphin restaurant, said food safety, hygiene and cleanliness standards were a priority. The standards should be set during this government’s term, he said.

“We will go about this step by step, in line with the United Nations Global Compact [UNGC]. We understand a UNGC member has committed to meet international standards in UNGC’s priority areas. The UNGC itself cannot monitor all the member’s activities. But, if the UNGC is informed of some irrelevant acts or suspicious activities by one of its members that violate the UNGC standards, it usually investigates and takes action. Likewise, we will also seek a commitment from every member to meet the MRA standard,” he said.

Nay Zaw Aung believes that such a standardisation process is needed for sustainable growth of the restaurant industry. But that needs support and expertise from several government ministries and agencies like the Health Ministry, the Food and Drug Administration, and Yangon City Development Committee.

Meanwhile, he said the acute challenge for the industry as a whole is the lack of human resources.

To address the shortage of skilled workers, the association has pinned its hope on holding seminars and training sessions to raise awareness.

The first of four events in the “Your Restaurant Tomorrow Series” was held in Yangon on May 15. The next would be held in either Bagan or Mandalay in August.

The MRA also signed memorandums of understanding with foreign organisations including Japan’s Overseas Human Resources and Industry Development Association (HIDA) and Thailand’s Bangkok Exhibition Services.

Overseas training

With HIDA’s support, the MRA has sent more than 100 Myanmar restaurant personnel to Japan for study and intensive training over the past three years. Members also visited food fairs including ones in Bangkok to learn about new developments. The MRA was also behind the successful “Myanmar Cooking Master” competition in the past few years.

 

Source: Myanmar Eleven

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