What has changed in 40 years?

Dünya Executive - - COMMENTARY - Tevf k GUNGOR Columnist

While I was going through my archives, I found a duplicate copy of a speech I made at the Economic and Social Studies Conference on May 10, 1978. I will pass on some sections from this text that show the problems of the economy in 1978 and how everything is still the same even after 40 years.

Here are some parts from the summary section of the speech:

►In order to get ease the pressure of the great responsibi­lities that are imposed on the economy at the expense of “saving the current year,” all hopes are attributed to the “green light” coming from the outside.

►However, Turkey’s problems have reached a point where it can’t be recovered with a “green light.” It should not be forgotten that tying the fate of the Turkish economy - and even the country - to a single green light will lead to much more important consequenc­es from all sides in the future.

►Turkey’s main problem is the fact that it can’t establish an exports industry that can meet the minimum foreign exchange needs of the economy.

►Turkey’s growing foreign exchange deficit problem cannot be solved with a miracle, as was the case in the preceding period, nor can it be met with new borrowing each year.

►The politics of the economy is mainly preoccupie­d with saving the day. It does not have the qualities to bring a long-term solution.

►Not only to save 1978, but also to save later years it is essential to determine a new production strategy, to stop price increases, to stabilize the value of the Turkish lira.

►Realistic wage policies aimed at assessing cheap labor in industry

will increase competitio­n.

►It is imperative to establish a “balance schedule” based on this strategy, as soon as the new production strategy is put forward. Such a plan and balance schedule can provide solid external financing support.

►Technology-driven industrial­ization is important. But let’s be realistic. It needs time. The share of products based on advanced technology in exports is around 3 percent.

►We will survive by exporting “cheap labor” which is the only thing we can do until we get an edge in technology.

Professor Dr. Z. Hatipoglu has argued for years that Turkey’s comparativ­e advantage is unskilled and lowskilled labor in industry. “There is neither ‘technique’ nor too rich ‘natural resources’ in Turkey that it can sell. If we are going to export labor, we can do it under only one condition, the price has to be cheap,” he says.

There is one point that is very important and should not be missed: If the benefits to employers (usually capital) are to be increased while the comparativ­e advantage is maintained by assessing labor in a limited way, we are doomed to fail because the amount which is not given to the workers thus will be given to the employer and the country will be pushed into many social problems. If we are going to make a sacrifice (we can’t survive without one) both the employee and the employer have to sacrifice.

My speech at the Social Studies Conference Board ends with this statement: “Recovering one year is not as important as recovering the country, which comes to the point of recovery each year.”

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