Turkish inflation hits its highest level in 19 years at 36%


ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey’s annual inflation rose at the fastest rate in 19 years, rising to 36.08% in December, official data showed on Monday.

The Turkish Statistical Institute said the consumer price index rose 13.58% in December from the previous month, further eroding the purchasing power of citizens. The annual increase in food prices was 43.8%, according to the data.

The annual inflation rate was the highest since September 2002. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party came to power two months later, in November 2002.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan promised a return to single-digit inflation.

“Whatever the reason, we regret that our citizens are faced with such a picture,” Erdogan said in reference to Monday’s inflation rate. “We are determined to break the collar of inflation and bring it down to single digits as soon as possible.”

Inflation rose in the country as the Turkish lira fell to record levels after the country’s central bank – under pressure from Erdogan – cut a key interest rate by 5 percentage points in September.

The weakening pound has made imports, fuel and everyday items more expensive and has left many locals, some 84 million people, struggling to buy food and other items. basic products. Many bought foreign currency and gold to protect their savings.

Last month, Erdogan announced measures to protect lira deposits against volatility after the Turkish currency hit an all-time low of 18.36 against the dollar. The pound rebounded after the announcement, but has since lost some of those gains. The lira depreciated about 44% against the dollar last year.

Erdogan insists on lowering borrowing costs to stimulate growth, even though economists argue that higher interest rates are the way to contain soaring prices.

Earlier Monday, Erdogan announced that Turkey’s exports rose 32.9 percent in 2021, to “a record” of $ 225.4 billion.

Addressing a group of exporters in a televised speech, Erdogan said the figure amounted to a 7.8% reduction in Turkey’s trade deficit. Turkey would revise its export target for 2022 to $ 250 billion, he added.

Meanwhile, the Independent Inflation Research Group, made up of academics and former government officials, estimated the annual inflation rate to be much higher at 83%. He said consumer prices rose 19.35% in December compared to November.

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