Turkey seeks to calm traders angry over economic hardship

Published April 10th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Turkey on Monday, April 9, introduced a series of measures to alleviate the increasing burden on tradesmen who took to the streets last week to protest a severe economic crisis and skyrocketing prices. 

 

One of the measures extended to April 30 the deadline to apply for the right to pay any accumulated tax debts in installments, government spokesman Tunca Toskay told reporters after a cabinet meeting. 

 

He added that the government also agreed to apply the old interest rate of 55 percent to any debt repayments to Halk Bankasi, a state-run bank, which makes loans to small traders. 

 

"This will allow traders and farmers to escape the negative effects of a high interest rate triggered by the current economic conditions," the spokesman said. 

 

The third measure was to allow the payment of accumulated debts of social security premiums in installments, Toskay added. 

 

The cabinet decisions came in the wake of nationwide demonstrations last week by thousands of shopkeepers and farmers angry with the government's handling of the economic turmoil which has forced many people out of business. 

 

On Monday some 800 traders from the hard-hit textile industry held a protest in Istanbul's Bayrampasa district, on the city's European side, calling on the government to resign. 

 

In the face of a severe cash crunch, triggered by fears of political instability, Ankara floated the Turkish lira on February 22, breaching an ambitious disinflation program backed by a four billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

 

The currency has so far lost more than 30 percent of its value against the dollar, pushing inflation up. The government aims to finalize a new economic program by mid-April and submit it to the IMF for a final approval in late April. — (AFP, Ankara) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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