More than five million Malaysian households have benefited from government initiatives launched to address the increasing cost of living, especially in urban areas.
Among the initiatives are Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M), Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia (MR1M) and Klinik 1Malaysia, which offers people cheaper groceries, affordable meals and almost cost-free healthcare.
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the most popular initiatives were KR1M and MR1M, which have helped Malaysians cut their expenditure on groceries and food by half.
“Previously, many were struggling to pay up to RM10 for a meal or about RM30 per day just for food.
“With MR1M, they can get a basic meal, which includes rice, fish or chicken, vegetables and a drink for within RM4,” he said, adding that it had helped people from the lower and middle-income groups manage their expenses.
Under MR1M, affordable meals are available to all, with breakfast and lunch costing below RM2 and RM4 respectively in the peninsula and from RM2.50 to RM5 in Sabah and Sarawak.
Students are the major beneficiaries of the initiative, with 184 cafeterias in 20 public universities adopting MR1M.
The menu is also available in 57 private universities and colleges, 25 polytechnics, 11 community colleges and 67 training and learning institutions nationwide.
The Government plans to introduce the affordable menu option at 1,000 new locations every year until 2015.
As for KR1M, Ismail Sabri said consumers had been able to slash their spending on groceries by up to 50% with the cheaper goods available at the stores.
“The products sold at KR1M are between 30% and 50% cheaper than those sold at supermarkets and elsewhere.
“The response from the rakyat has been tremendous and there is a huge demand for more stores to be set up nationwide,” he said.
Since it was introduced in June 2011, 85 KR1M stores have been opened nationwide to help low-income households cope with the cost of living.
Ismail Sabri had announced earlier this month the setting up of 33 new KR1M stores across the peninsula at a cost of RM16.5mil, in addition to the 57 outlets approved for Sabah and Sarawak in Budget 2013.
This brings the total number of KR1M stores that will be built this year to 90.
Products found in these shops are produced by local small- and medium-enterprises, and packaged under the KR1M brand.
“Both initiatives have been very successful and the feedback from the rakyat is very encouraging,” he said.
According to the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), which was involved in developing these initiatives, KR1M emphasises on “the delivery of basic essential needs such as rice, cooking oil, milk powder and diapers”.
To help Malaysians cope with the rising cost of healthcare, the Government spent RM4.5mil to set up 128 Klinik 1Malaysia nationwide and another RM18.5mil to run them.
More than 4.6 million patients have sought treatment at these clinics since its inception in 2010.
The clinics provide basic outpatient treatment besides functioning as an information centre to provide health notices such as disease outbreaks and other medical advice.
With 80 more clinics set to open nationwide this year, more Malaysians will be able to seek affordable basic healthcare.
According to Pemandu, more than six million students have also benefited from other initiatives such as the 1Malaysia book voucher programme.