By Veronique Bouwers –
Life is getting more expensive worldwide. Last year you paid 100 euros on your shopping basket in the Netherlands and now you pay for the same groceries 109,60 euros according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics. But if you think that groceries in the Netherlands have become more expensive: in Turkey, it’s way worse. For that same shopping basket, you’ll pay 173,50 euros in proportion: an increase of 73,5 percent in one year time.
“I want to leave Turkey as soon as possible”, says Neslihan Günin (21) a student of Bilgi University in Istanbul. “My aunt lives in The Netherlands and that is also my dream for the future. I’m very worried about my future here. Even though I’m one of the lucky students financially, there’s no way I could rent a house in Turkey with the increasing rental rates”.
According to economist Mustafa Sonmez, “the problem in Turkey is the huge inflation. The inflation rate is 73,5 percent in one year time and income doesn’t increase that fast. It’s affecting everyone, poverty is increasing, and people are losing their purchasing power. People are getting in serious trouble, even the middle class”.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, an average salary in Turkey is 7.830 lira (438 euros) a month. The minimum wage is 4.250 lira (238 euro). The cost of living for a single person is 6.473 lira (362 euros), meaning people with a minimum salary live in poverty at the moment. The starvation threshold point is at 4.433 lira (239 euro). With the increasing inflation it might not take long before a large population of the country lives below the starvation threshold point.
“There are three main problems that are getting worser by the day,” says Sonmez. “Housing costs is the first one, with a yearly increase of 110 percent. This is especially affecting young people, who are not able to get their own housing. The second problem is transportation. Due to the high energy cost, it has increased by 110 percent. The third problem is our food inflation, also mainly due to the high energy cost. This has increased by 91 percent, affecting families, including the middle class”. Last year you could buy a kilo of tomatoes for 8 lira, now it’ll cost 22 lira. Red meats increased from 56 liras last year to 83 liras at the moment.
“Everything is increasing a lot,” says Günin. “Not only the rental and house prices are frightening, now I’m already worried when I go get a sandwich. Four days ago, I bought a sandwich and yesterday I went back to buy the same one again. Four days ago, the price was 15 lira and yesterday it was 21 lira. I won’t get a third”.
Hidayet works for a middle income at the Puffin Hostel in Istanbul and is struggling to make ends meet. “I’m constantly calculating everything so that I can get by. I’m lucky to be able to buy food, but I cannot go out for a drink anymore or travel. Transportation became incredibly expensive. One year ago, a bus pass was three lira, today it’s seven lira”.
Hüseyin Aksoy (26) works in a café in Besiktas Istanbul for a minimum income and is not getting by. “Things are more expensive every day and it makes me angry. I can eat at the café, but at home I don’t always have enough money for food. I’m surviving, but I hope that it’ll get better soon”.
“People in Turkey are angry and unhappy”, says Sonmez. “Erdogan is ignoring the situation and there is a confidence problem in the government. People are waiting for the election. Next year there will be elections and people hope for some economic changes”.
But Sonmez sees a bleak future for Turkey. “It’s a huge economic crisis and I’m afraid we’re lost. Erdogan will cheat the election and the inflation will get higher and higher. Maybe Erdogan will make some adjustments in income, but the inflation is so high that an adjustment will not solve the problem”.