BY ALAATTIN AKTAS
The government has blamed its economic failures on foreign actors for years, so much so that many people have internalized the story. Foreign actors are responsible for all adverse economic developments, including price hikes, foreign exchange (FX) rate hikes or even insufficient hikes in wages.
Eventually it became necessary to find domestic branches of foreign actors to serve as scapegoats once the story had become stale. These actors were condemned for such minutia as the price of parsley, sunflower seed oil, toilet paper and bread at the market.
Then we replaced them with a new model: Domestic actors! Prices increased as supermarket chains stockpiled goods; intermediaries loading tomatoes and lemons from Antalya sold them at inflated prices in big cities; dealers and distribution companies were behind the petroleum price hike – the list goes on.
Moreover, we leave them at the mercy of inflation teams.
Sometimes we attacked banks and told them not to make so much profit.
No matter who we pointed fingers at, inflation did not decrease. Reducing the FX rate was impossible. It was obvious what we had to do: Create new actors to blame.
Now it was time to accuse the business world!
Although we are used to occasionally seeing fingers shaken at the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD), this time members of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ISO), one of the biggest umbrella organizations in Turkey, have been targeted.
Everyone stared with shock during the speech of the Central Bank Governor and his conversation with ISO members at the ISO Assembly meeting. This conversation even turned into a debate a few times.
The accusations made of businesspeople were unbelievable! They were accused of stockpiling FX through the usage of low-interest-rate loans.
The idea to work with a certain stock for production was confused with other ideas.
But whose fault is the low interest rate on loans for FX purchases? Whose fault is the big difference between the cost of TRY and FX return?
Those who estimate that businesspeople hold USD 500bn abroad can also estimate the amount of under-the-mattress FX held by citizens. They can say that balances will be different if 10% of this FX is exchanged. We are waiting for this change to happen.
We are also waiting for the Central Bank’s list of the business entities that bought USD 55bn FX using cheap loans. But the Central Bank has not released that list!
That way they can see the damage they have caused to the economy and be ashamed of what they did!