Turkey passes controversial law liberalizing tobacco industry

Published June 21st, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Turkey's parliament passed a law on Wednesday, June 20, liberalizing the state-controlled tobacco industry, an IMF-sought reform that has caused the resignation of a cabinet minister, Anatolia news agency reported. 


The bill provides a legal ground for the privatization of the state tobacco and alcoholic beverages monopoly, TEKEL, deregulates prices in the sector and lifts restraints on the establishment of private plants. It also introduces measures to limit tobacco production and to phase out by 2002 support purchases of tobacco. 


The reform is part of a tough economic program that Turkey has pledged to implement in return for multi-billion-dollar aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to battle a severe financial crisis. 


Former privatization minister Yuksel Yalova resigned in late May after his remarks that the tobacco law should not be rushed sparked panic at the volatile markets. 


Yalova's comments caused a five-percent plunge at the Istanbul stock exchange in several hours out of fears that the government was not truly committed to the economic reforms. ― (AFP, Ankara) 


© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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