The green plum is a sign of the beginning of spring in Turkey. Intensely sour fruit, which is offered only once a year around April, when the tree is harvested before it is fully ripe. For many decades, prunes have been an affordable food for the working class. But rising prices and the depreciating Turkish lira in recent years have made this “harbinger of spring” a real delicacy that is now absent from many Turkish tables.
Perhaps because of its place in the Turkish tradition, it is now on social media. run publications showing prices of about $ 50 per kilogram of green plums. In a country where the monthly minimum wage is around $ 290, the price of plums has risen to the amount that many set aside for rent.
“New economic model”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in power since 2002, when he was elected thanks to his anti-hyperinflation program, which had plagued Turkey for a long time before.
his Islamist-conservative Justice Party government will be remembered for its free market policies that have helped rebuild the economy. But in recent years, Erdogan has pursued a tactic of lowering interest rates to keep inflation at bay, an opposite approach to that commonly used by central banks.
Erdogan called his method a “new economic model”. declaring to parliament in November that this will boost jobs, growth, exports and cheap credit.
We will remove this scourge of interest rates from the back of people. “We certainly cannot allow our people to be crushed by interest rates,” Erdogan told Justice and Freedom Party lawmakers in November.
“No I can and will not stand on this path with those who defend interest rates, “he added.
” Monetary policy does not work at all “
Erdogan’s words may be linked to his conservative philosophy – some say the Qur’an approves of trade, but considers debt at interest a sin. It is believed that only a select few benefit from interest rates, not society as a whole. the Turkish news site PolitikYol.
Monetary policy does not work at all, “Tunka said. “Real per capita income has been depreciating over the last seven to eight years, and purchasing power is falling sharply. The most important point is that nothing is being done to prevent inflation from rising. “
The President has traditionally pressured independent central bank governors to cut interest rates percentages and aside those who resisted. The central bank began lowering interest rates in September, despite high inflation, which was still below 20% at the time. Now the rate is 14% from 19% then.
Meanwhile, the pound has lost more than 60% of its value against the dollar in just six months.
The Turkish agricultural industry imports a number of items – from seeds to fertilizers – for which it pays in dollars, and it is no surprise that the devaluation of the pound has led to high food prices for households. Turkey’s CPI figures for food and non-alcoholic beverages show an increase of 70.3% on an annual basis in March
Turkey has fertile land for agriculture. But the country depends on imports of agricultural products.
“The current government is not paving the way for local producers to develop their production skills,” Tunka said.
obvious plans to raise interest rates
The elections in Turkey are on the horizon in 2023, but so far there are no visible plans to raise interest rates. Tunka said that while short-term changes could stop the bleeding, more will be needed in the future:
Turkey has needed structural changes for decades. The only way to review Turkey’s economic policies for development is to configure a new set of policy instruments that have the ability to modernize the economy. “
(Recently) Erdogan’s speech acknowledged that rising global energy and food spending has hit Turkey – without mentioning any link to interest rates. Instead, he said the government would take action against those who set high prices.
“Turkey’s population over the age of 40 has experienced serious distortions in terms of income equality. And yet the younger generations are witnessing such high levels for the first time, “said Tunka.
And so it seems that the tradition of eating green plums covered with salt can remain distant memory of a large part of Turkish society.