Restaurants repeat calls for hiked price ceilings

4. Picture
A worker serves a traditional meal at an Amman restaurant. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Workers in restaurants preparing traditional meals urged the government to accept their call to raise their price ceilings, in view of a rise in production costs following the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine.اضافة اعلان

Last month, the Jordanian Union of Restaurants and Confectionery Proprietors called on the government to raise the prices of traditional meals by 30 to 40 percent, equivalent to 200 fils, but insisted that that it did not “want to infringe on the peoples’ livelihood”.

During an emergency meeting to determine the extent of the damage sustained by providers of traditional foods and the next steps needed to “manage” prices, the union also called on the government to exempt traditional restaurants from paying fees on purchases, raise customs and sales tax on imported frozen chicken, and exempt animal feed from customs duties.

It called for setting price ceilings on suppliers and passing measures to combat monopolies.

The union also called on the government to direct the Social Security Corporation to cap monthly deduction rates from restaurant owners, in addition to stopping legal procedures against establishments operating in the sector, while giving them an opportunity to correct their conditions.

On Wednesday, Shawarma stand worker Mohammad Ghaith said the profit generated by the restaurants preparing traditional meals “is almost non-existent”.

“The significant increase in foodstuff prices depleted our profit,” he explained.

He said that restaurant owners have “considerable obligations and commitments, including rent, bills, and salaries, but what made the situation worse for them is the increase in foodstuff prices.”

Ahmad Hatem, another restaurant worker, said that the absence of profit “greatly affects workers, like myself”.

He explained that restaurant owners may be forced to scale back on staff and other expenses, which may “force them to dismiss workers”.

“The economic situation is still precarious, and we are aware of this, and that is why we demand a reasonable price hike that helps restaurant owners to stand on their feet back again, but in such a way that would not affect the people,” he added.

However, man-in-the-street insisted that salvaging the traditional restaurant business should not come out of people’s pockets.

Ali Sbeihi said that hiking the prices “is not an appropriate solution because many people will be reluctant to frequent these restaurants.”

“Generally, there is a weakness in the people’s purchasing power, and what is happening to restaurants and other businesses is not the people’s fault.”

“The government should find a solution out of the economic crisis,” he said.

Amer Yaseen said that “priorities have changed, and eating in restaurants is no longer a priority for the majority of citizens, as it used to be in the past.”

“The difficult economic conditions and the fluctuation in the political situation in the world require citizens to preserve their money in anticipation of any emergency,” he speculated.

Omar Al-Awwad, the head of the Jordanian Union of Restaurants and Confectionery Proprietors, said that “the prices of restaurant meals are expected to rise soon”.

He said that a “satisfactory solution will be reached between the union and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply,” but did not elaborate further on the reason for his optimism.

He threatened escalatory steps, if restaurants were not allowed to increase their prices.

“In the event that the talks fail, and I rule that out, we will take some steps to escalate the situation,” he said. He said by law, “we are allowed to file a case against the ministry and we are allowed to hold a sit-in at the door of the ministry until we reach a solution.”

According to Awwad, it is early to discuss the escalatory steps further. “I am sure that there will be a solution that will satisfy the union, the ministry and the consumer.”

The head of the Public Services Committee in the Senate, Mustafa Hamarneh, told Jordan News that “the demands of restaurant owners were summed up in raising the limits of the pricing list for the meals they serve.”

“This was rejected by the Ministry of Industry and Trade because of its impact on consumers,” he said.

According to Al-Mamlaka TV, the head of the Amman Chamber of Commerce, Khalil Haj Tawfiq, spoke of “solutions” to deal with the demands of raising the prices of meals in traditional restaurants, in light of the significant increase in food prices globally.

Tawfiq said that a meeting was held on Saturday, with “thousands of owners of traditional restaurants in the presence of the secretary-general of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply and the technical team of the ministry concerned with studying costs and prices.”

“Following the meeting, a technical committee was formed on Tuesday to reach consensus on the prices of meals in these restaurants,” he said.

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