ISTANBUL Consumer prices in Turkey soared nearly 70% in April from a year ago, hitting a two-decade high, official figures show.
Transport, food prices and household equipment recorded the largest increase in annual inflation, with transport costs more than doubling over the year.
Countries around the world are facing a growing cost of living crisis.
But Turkey’s problems have been compounded by its president’s reluctance to raise interest rates, a tool commonly used to help calm inflation.
The cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages saw an annual increase of 89.1%, while furniture and household equipment increased by 77.64%.
On a monthly basis, prices jumped 7.25% in April, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute.
Turkey has seen the value of the pound plummet, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prioritizing exports over monetary stability.
Erdogan has described interest rates as “the mother and father of all evil” and has used less orthodox policy to try to drive down prices, including intervening in currency markets.
Faced with pressure from the Turkish president, the country’s central bank cut rates to 14% from 19% since September.
In April, it kept rates stable for the fourth consecutive month, despite soaring inflation.
Tuba Canpolat, a former health worker living in Istanbul, said her family struggled to get by on her husband’s salary alone. He works in construction.
She had planned to return to work after taking three months of maternity leave, but with the prices so high, she was unable to afford childcare.
“I get what we call unemployment benefit in Turkey, but it’s such a low number that it doesn’t even meet my baby’s monthly diaper needs,” she told the BBC.
“I am looking for odd jobs that can be done online. But for now it is not possible for us to live on a salary of 5,000 Turkish liras when the rents are 3,000 to 4,000 Turkish liras. “
Tuba said she was forced to buy cheaper nappies for her baby and change them less often, while their food costs also skyrocketed.
“We can’t take it. In fact, we survive on the support of our family,” she added.
Charlie Robertson, chief global economist at Renaissance Capital, said the disruption caused by the war in Ukraine was contributing to higher prices, including for food.
However, he said a big part of the underlying reason for the high inflation was “Turkey’s very strange monetary policies.”
But Jason Tuvey, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said there were “no signs that policymakers are about to change course and raise interest rates” and predicted that inflation would remain around the current high rates for much of this year.
Prices are rising rapidly around the world, due to factors such as COVID-related supply shortages and the war in Ukraine, which has driven up energy and food prices.
Many countries have responded by raising interest rates to encourage individuals and businesses to borrow and spend less, in an effort to limit inflation.
The Bank of England raised the interest rate to the highest level since 2009 while on Wednesday the US Federal Reserve announced its biggest rate hike in more than two decades.
Countries like India and Australia have also increased their borrowing costs. BBC
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