Economy to stay ‘all talk’ till 2019
Idon’t know about you, but I am fed up with all of the talk of “structural reforms.” Once upon a time, those words meant something, but overuse has sapped them of value. It would now be best is to replace “structural reform” with “changing the status quo.” This raises two questions: Is it possible for Turkey to change the status quo? Apart from that, will it be possible to focus on the economy in general?
We have a debate about the legitimacy of the referendum, while we are discussing the need for a possible coalition in the 2019 general election. Parliament has several laws it must pass to adjust the legal framework to comply with the new constitutional amendments. Politics will focus on these matters. Relations with the European Union are also front and center after the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe decided to put Turkey’s membership process under review again, as is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s damaging report on the referendum process.
Contradictory statements regarding the purchase of S-300 missiles from Russia could have consequences on relations with the United States and NATO. The war in Syria continues to haunt us. Terrorism, Iran, Iraq, tourists who do not visit Turkey any longer are all sources of concern.
It would be wrong to assume that if we did not face these issues, we could easily change the status quo. Even if everything were a bed of roses, it would be hard. We cling to this notion as if it were a life raft. We are not content with the current status quo – or at least pretend not to be - but do we even know how to change it?
About two years ago, Turkey announced a “retransformation” program involving more than 2,000 articles that, in the end, amounted to little more than wishful thinking. For instance, the government aimed to reduce the foreign input in wind-turbine manufacturing. There were hundreds of other examples like this. The moral of the story: We recognize the problems, but we don’t know how to solve them. Even if we knew how, oftentimes it is politically unfeasible. A good ex- ample is the effort to reduce the unrecorded economy. We know how to reduce it. But is it politically doable? What would happen to the unemployment figure? How will we find jobs for those who lose under-the-table work? To prevent suffering, to what extent will there be unemployment compensation? How long will such compensation last? How will these people improve their skills to become suitable for new jobs? Considering how much time this would require and the never-ending election schedule, this becomes an insurmountable task to achieve. I believe we will continue to say “what if ” about the economy until 2019, but it will remain just talk – and talk that will include meaningless words like “structural reform.”