Life goes on in Northern Cyprus

Life goes on in Northern Cyprus

Southern Cyprus entered the European Union in 2004. It benefited from European Union funds and opportunities. Its economy and people are now in distress. Northern Cyprus has been excluded since 1974. It is under a political and economic embargo. But, thank God, its economy is functioning, its people go on with their lives.

All right, there is nobody to question those who sank the south and ask, “How did you bankrupt this country?” Well, then, shouldn’t there be a “well done” to those who kept the “north” on its feet and brought it to this day without problems?

Well, the northern side’s situation is not very, very good. But it’s good. Maybe better that the “general situation” of Turkey. Why? Is it because loads of money are being channeled from Turkey? Is that the reason? Turkey’s budget support in 2012 was only 325 million Turkish Liras. The expenses of the north are 2.5 billion liras; its income is 2.1 billion liras.

Let me give you the figures that I could find to make a north-south comparison: The land of the south is twice that of the north. Its population is four times as crowded. Its national income is six times higher. National income per capita for those living in the south is above more than 50 percent of those in the north.
While reviewing the numbers I am about to give, do not forget that the south has been accepted to the EU, that it has benefitted from EU funds, while on the other hand, no foreign planes are allowed to land in the north, no foreign ships can dock in the north and the north cannot sell goods anywhere but in Turkey.

* The south can export whatever amount to any country it wants but its exports are worth $1.8 billion and imports are $7.7 billion.

* The north can sell Turkey goods worth $100 million and its total imports are $1.7 billion. Its foreign trade deficit is $1.6 billion but, because of $459 million in tourism revenues and $341 million in revenues from foreign students and other incomes, its current account deficit is just $238 million.

* While the rate of the south’s current account deficit to national income is -10.4 percent, the north’s is 6.6 percent.

Now, let’s come to the “financial balloon”…

Bank deposits in the banks in the south are 16 times the bank deposits in the banks in the north, the loans are 26 times, because the banks in the north are disciplined. They apply the capital adequacy ratio. Loans have a ratio of 70 percent of deposits. In the south, though, loans are way above the deposits; they are 4.2 times more than the economy (national income).

As a result: We, in some way, are concerned why the Turkish economy is not in a better position. Similarly, we are also worried about why the Northern Cypriot economy does not overflow, why it does not flourish. However, as you can see, being cautious is better than entering ventures that cannot be sustained. This does not mean we should succumb to “what fate brings us” or adopt a “the minimum is enough to make one happy” philosophy. No, we are obliged to search for the better. It is obvious that without producing, without increasing production, the better cannot be achieved.

Güngör Uras is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared on March 27. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.