Free weddings, gravestones in Turks’ plan to boost lira
ANKARA: Convert your hard currency to Turkish lira and you could enjoy a free wedding package, a meal and a loaf of bread. Or even a gravestone. These incentives are being offered by Turkish businessmen to customers who respond to a call from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to buy lira and prop up the ailing national currency. His plea has met with a huge response-from kebab shop owners to the defense industry-although economists doubt the campaign will have any lasting impact.
Gokhan Kuk, a baker in Istanbul said he started offering free bread to those changing $250 into Turkish lira. “With the help of God, we will raise the lira and annihilate the dollar,” he said, sitting in his office decorated with several portraits of Erdogan. “I do not win anything with this initiative... The only interest is to support our country as the president asked.” A few shops away, Bulent Baydeniz, who sells Turkish meat patties, offers a free meal for every $250 changed. “After I heard the president of the republic, I understood that this could help the country.” In the southeastern city of Gaziantep, businessman Fatih Demir is offering a free 5,000 lira ($1,460) wedding package if people prove they converted $10,000 into lira. “We are doing this after the president’s call to give support for the lira to gain greater value,” Demir said. For those at the end of their life in the northwestern city of Bursa, Enes Alan says he is offering free gravestones worth 750 lira ($220) for those who convert $2,000.
‘No huge impact’
assets abroad, “it’s not going to have a huge impact on our balance of payments or on the value of the currency”. Yesterday, the lira was trading at 3.42 to the dollar after rallying slightly this week. It had traded at 2.9 to the dollar at the start of the year.
With growth stuttering and the lira under pressure, Erdogan has turned preserving Turkey’s economic stability into a national struggle, like the defeat of the July coup.”They are trying to stage a coup through interest rates, stock exchange and foreign currency transactions,” Erdogan said on Sunday. He has repeatedly called for lower interest rates to boost Turkey’s growth, even though the central bank is theoretically independent.
The president also said trade with Russia, China and Iran should be done in local currencies. But Yesilada said they are “not a huge part” of Turkey’s trade thus any impact-even if they agreed-would not be “major”. “Fifty percent of our trade is with the EU, that’s not going to change,” he said. But he added that offering tenders in Turkish lira was a positive step. “It’s a good idea to sell assets in Turkish lira and to contract tenders in lira. This is sensible.” Turkey’s privatization authority confirmed on Tuesday tenders would henceforth be offered in the local currency.
ISTANBUL: A customer shows a dollars exchange receipt to backer Gokhan Kuk (right) for free bread in Istanbul. Convert your hard currency to Turkish lira and you could enjoy a free wedding package, a meal and a loaf of bread. Or even a gravestone. These incentives are being offered by Turkish businessmen to customers who respond to a call from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to buy lira and prop up the ailing national currency.