Free wed­dings, grave­stones in Turks’ plan to boost lira

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

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.

— AFP

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.

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