'Thank you for being alive' — public catering's debts for delivery of ready-made food in the pandemic to be covered

Tatarstan is launching second campaign to subsidise food delivery through aggregators

'Thank you for being alive' — public catering's debts for delivery of ready-made food in the pandemic to be covered
Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

As Realnoe Vremya found out, following the permission to work after midnight, the authorities of Tatarstan prepared another bonus for the catering sector. In early June, restaurants and cafes will again have the opportunity to receive subsidies for reimbursing the cost of delivering ready-made food through the aggregators Yandex.Food, Delivery club, OZON, Wildberries, which “take” the commission of up to 30%. For these purposes, 42 million rubles have been allocated from the republic's budget, which is 1,5 times more than at the height of the lockdown, said Timur Gumerov, the head of the Centre for the Implementation of Programmes for the Support and Development of Small and Medium-sized Businesses of the Republic of Tatarstan. Due to the ban on subsidising excisable beverages, only 104 unique users, or about every tenth non-alcoholic cafe, could receive subsidies last year, but this year there will be more of them, according to the executive director of the Association of Restaurateurs Galina Sharafutdinova.

Second cashback for delivery

In the first half of June, Tatarstan resumes paying compensation for the costs of cafes and restaurants for food delivery through food aggregators. The campaign is aimed at minimising face-to-face visits of Tatarstan citizens to public catering establishments.

The restart of the programme “Subsidising the costs associated with the payment of services for the delivery of food and products” has been approved by the resolution of the government of Tatarstan, but now it is being the final stage of its approval, said the head of the Centre of implementation of programmes of support and development of small and medium enterprises of Tatarstan, Timur Gumerov (acts as the operator of the programme and its author, developer, is part of the Tatarstan ministry of economy — editor's note). According to him, the document received a positive conclusion from the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic and will soon be submitted for registration to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tatarstan. The agreement is rather technical in nature and will not change the main parameters of the programme, he said. It is expected that the fund will start accepting applications until June 10, and the programme itself will last until December 31, 2021.

The main feature of the programme 2021 in its “grown” budget. This year, the republican treasury allocates 42 million rubles to subsidise food delivery services, while a year ago Tatarstan public catering received only 28 million rubles as support, Timur Gumerov said. At the peak of self-isolation, they “depleted” in just three months — from May to June 2020. However, then this money was sought in the conditions of force majeure and could not provide universal support to small and medium-sized businesses.

Restart of the programme was approved by the decree of the government of the Republic of Tatarstan, but the final stage of its approval is currently underway, Timur Gumerov said. Photo: e-nkama.ru

This time, we decided to increase the amount of funding by 1,5 times in order to maintain customer traffic and meet the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor.

“We often hear negative comments about restaurants," Timur Gumerov explains the reason for restarting the programme. “They are accused of violating sanitary and epidemiological norms when placing visitors in the hall. And why do they violate it? Let's not forget that during the self-isolation, the catering industry suffered great losses, and now sometimes they just 'stuff' the guest halls. And if we help and pay for part of their expenses for the remote sale of food, then they will not have any sense to 'overload'. They will comply with the norms of Rospotrebnadzor, and people will have less contact," the operator of the remote trade support programme for cafes and restaurants hopes.”

Aggregators “eat up” a third

Last May, Tatarstan, along with Moscow and Moscow Oblast, for the first time introduced a programme for subsidising the costs associated with paying for services for the delivery of ready-made food and food products. It was the response of the republican authorities to the threat of curtailing businesses in the face of restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From 28 April, 2020, by order of the government of Tatarstan, the work of cafes, bars, restaurants and canteens was suspended until the sanitary and epidemiological situation improved. Then the Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Tatarstan submitted a letter to Rustam Minnikhanov with the proposal to find forms of support for the industry. As a result, a mechanism was developed to subsidise the remote trade of ready-made food.

By itself, express delivery is expensive for restaurants and cafes. Aggregators take away almost a third of the cost of the finished dish. “The food delivery aggregator itself takes up to 30% of the cost of the dish. The restaurant loses from 20% to 30% of the cost of the finished dish. Therefore, the budget returns these costs to the entrepreneur," Timur Gumerov said, explaining why it was decided that the republican subsidies should fully cover the costs of aggregator services. However, a “ceiling” has been set for them — the commission should not be higher than 35%, the head of the centre said.

To participate in the programme, the ministry of economy of the Republic of Tatarstan has accredited four food aggregators: Yandex. Food, Delivery Club, Ozon and Wildberries. Both cafes and restaurants applying for subsidies had to have contracts with them for the placement of goods and services on the services with the delivery of food. Another prerequisite was the absence of debt to the regional budget.

To participate in the programme, the ministry of economy of the Republic of Tatarstan has accredited four food aggregators: Yandex. Food, Delivery Club, Ozon and Wildberries. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Only one in ten received subsidies

This year, the government of Tatarstan returned to the mechanism of subsidising public catering in order to grow a large cohort of non-alcoholic food outlets in the industry. Due to the federal ban on subsidising excisable beverages, 104 unique users had the opportunity to receive subsidies last year, Timur Gumerov said. If we look in relative terms, only one in ten cafes received support.

“Federal legislation prohibits providing state support to those who are engaged in the sale of excisable goods," he said.

In other words, cafes and restaurants, which, as a rule, have a license to sell alcohol, are automatically deprived of the right to subsidies.

“Last year, we issued 154 subsidies, and among them — 104 unique recipients," said the head of the centre-operator of the programme. “The average amount is difficult to call, because there were newcomers who received 5,000 rubles each. And those who have been working with aggregators for a long time have received more. For example, one entrepreneur received almost 3 million rubles. We asked — did it help? Oh, for sure! During the pandemic, when cafes and restaurants were closing down, he opened a third establishment in Kazan.

For comparison, a year ago, the executive director of the Association of Restaurateurs Galina Sharafutdinova claimed that about 300 enterprises of the industry are connected to the aggregators. Does it turn out that two-thirds of Tatarstan's establishments are alcoholic? The press service of Yandex said that they cooperate with about a thousand restaurants in the republic.

When calculating the amount of funding, the programmes were based on the first experience, but with an eye to cover the outstanding obligations of the previous year. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Timur Gumerov is pleased with the results of the first subsidy campaign. “What was the effect? Just — “thank you for being alive!” You got a subsidy, and please, just don't shut down, just live! As a result, 100 cafes and restaurants survived the pandemic. We check whether they really have not closed and have not gone into bankruptcy, but we do not look at the revenue.”

According to him, the financing of the programme ended in June, after which entrepreneurs began to overwhelm with letters, calls with questions — when the programme will be launched again. “We informed the minister of economy of the Republic of Tatarstan about the colossal effect of this programme, after which a decision was made with the president of the Republic of Tatarstan to extend it," Gumerov said.

It's time to present “covid” bills

When calculating the amount of funding, the programmes were based on the first experience, but with an eye to cover the outstanding obligations of the previous year. “Why 42 million? There are two covenants: the need for catering and the budget possibilities. After all, there were also those who did not manage to get into the programme in time last year. Therefore, with its launch, contracts will be repaid from October 2020 to December 2021," he explained.

The executive director of the Association of Restaurateurs, Galina Sharafutdinova, told Realnoe Vremya that there is never enough support, but due to federal restrictions, 15-20% of catering enterprises created independent delivery, which, however, still costs more than aggregators. In her opinion, this year there will be more applicants for subsidies:

“It is important that we can compensate something, so any supporting measure will be met with understanding by the community," Sharafutdinova believes.

The launch of the programme will be announced three days before the start — the announcement will be posted on the website, and the announcement will be made in the chatbot, so all interested companies will have the opportunity to register in time, Timur Gumerov said in conclusion.

By Luiza Ignatyeva
Events Tatarstan