Turks in line for cheap bread as inflation melts their savings

PHOTO: Reuters

At a time when the value of the Turkish lira is collapsing and violent inflation is melting Turkish savings, many people in Istanbul are waiting in line for cheap bread in an attempt to save some money from their budgets, Reuters reported, quoted by BTA.

In the Sultangazi district, where they traditionally support President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), several people are waiting to buy bread from a municipal booth, saying rising prices are their choice.

“People are in such a situation now that every pound has to be counted,” said Ozcan Kethuda, 50, who buys bread for his family. He blames the government.

“The government needs to change because the system has been the same for 20 years,” says Kethuda. “Many people here may say, ‘Be alive and well, my sultan,’ but that period is over. Those who, together with me, voted for the Justice and Development Party are also facing difficulties.”

Ramadan Kambay says his family’s financial situation has deteriorated sharply. They lived on a thousand pounds a week, half of which went for food. However, with the collapse of the pound, the value of a thousand pounds now corresponds to only 73 dollars, which can not cover their needs.

“Taking a thousand pounds a week is not enough,” says Cambay. “Who should we blame for this?”

For Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, considered a possible opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the queues illustrate not only the economic crisis but also the government’s failure, showing the need for political change.

His municipality sells bread for 1.25 pounds (about 15 stotinki), which is almost half less than ordinary groceries. The amount of bread produced is almost double – up to 1.5 million loaves a day to meet the need. According to him, however, the queues show that this is not enough.

“This shows poverty very clearly. People do not enjoy queuing for bread,” the mayor of Istanbul told Reuters.

In November alone, the Turkish lira lost 30 percent of its value, and official annual inflation jumped to 21.3 percent after the central bank cut interest rates from 19 percent to 15 percent in September due to pressure from Erdogan.

According to the municipality, the cost of living has risen by 50 per cent a year, with rents rising by 71 per cent and many basic household goods rising between 75 per cent and 138 per cent.

“The current process is not just an economic crisis. I want to emphasize that this is a political crisis,” Imamoglu said.

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