Citizens in Turkey are feeling the heat of soaring inflation rate coupled with a high unemployment rate. Consumer prices are witnessing an increase of 10% every month, making the life of common people very difficult.
Though the monthly minimum wage was hiked by 50%, it has not prevented high inflation rate from eating deeper into household earnings and savings.
On February 03, 2022, the government-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) reported an annual inflation rate of 48.69 percent for January 2022, the highest in two decades.
TUIK said that month-on-month, consumer prices rose 11.1%.
However, the ENAG Inflation Research Group, an independent institution set up in 2020 to track the country’s inflation, put the figure of month-on-month price rise in Turkey at 15.52%.
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January's inflation was largely driven by transport prices, which soared 68.9% year-on-year, while the heavily-weighted food and drinks prices jumped 55.6%.
No wonder, the Misery Index, put forward by the American economist Arthur Okun as an indicator consisting of the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate, has placed Turkey at the top.
The increase in the cost of living, coupled with high a unemployment rate, is leaving Turkish people poorer.
In the index, which consists of the latest unemployment and inflation data from 40 countries in the emerging and frontier markets, Turkey ranked first, with an index score of 59.89, surpassing Argentina (59.1).
Meanwhile, Greece received an index score of 18.4.
Emre Akcakmak, Managing Director of Greenwest Consulting, stated that Turkey has shown a rapid rise in the Misery Index in the last few years.
He drew attention to the fact that only 29 of the 186 countries in the world had inflation rate exceeding 10% and only 13 had more than 20%.
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Thus, Turkey became one of the prominent countries in the top 13, despite the presence of troubled countries such as Sudan, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Suriname and Ethiopia.
The American investment bank JP Morgan has predicted that the inflation rate in Turkey will peak at 55% in May 2022 and may remain around 50 per cent until November 2022.
Further, the producer price index too soared 10.45% month-on-month in January for an annual rise of 93.53%, in a reflection of the foreign exchange-related turmoil in the country in recent months.
The Turkish lira has crashed to its lowest position in history.
In response to the currency turmoil, Turkey has raised a series of administered prices this year, including for gas, electricity, road tolls and bus fares, adding to inflationary pressure.
When questioned by Turkish businessmen about faith-driven economic policies that are leading to economic crisis, the Turkish President, instead of addressing the concern, accused them of “scheming to topple the government”.
It is high time Turkish citizens realise that the role of religion in state affairs has only compounded their misery. Any kind of revival of the Turkish economy would be subject to separation of religion from government and education.
Secularism must return to the forefront of Turkish thought, but not with the attachment of radical ultra-nationalism.
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