Turkish government to scrutinize supermarkets for food prices
The government will focus on discrepancies in the prices of goods sold in supermarkets and street markets as part of its efforts to fight inflation, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said.
In a speech he delivered during an event with businesspeople in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, Albayrak noted that they are keeping a close eye on the prices both in street markets and supermarkets.
“We do not see the prices that we want to see in supermarkets. We will talk to supermarkets. If there is a significant difference in prices between supermarkets and street markets this means supermarkets do not give the support we expect from them. We are looking at how the food chain works in street markets and supermarkets,” Albayrak said.
He noted that as part of the efforts in the fight against inflation, the Food Committee convened on Jan. 15 to discuss the price formations in wholesale food markets and an early warning mechanism.
Albayrak called on all companies to take more responsibility in the fight against inflation, which he described as a serious problem for the country.
“We expect a much stronger performance from all stakeholders,” the minister said.
Albayrak was confident that inflation will be below the target at the end of this year.
According to the latest official data, food prices increased by 1.08 percent month-on-month in December 2018, bringing the annual inflation in this item to 25 percent. The headline consumer price inflation was 20.3 percent in 2018.
On a monthly basis, fruit and vegetable prices rose by 5.87 percent in December last year, whereas the annual increase was 30.8 percent.
In the New Economic Program, announced in September, the government’s inflation target for 2019 is 15.9 percent. The government forecasts inflation to ease to 9.8 percent next year and further down to 6 percent in 2021.
Albayrak also told the gathering that the government will continue to maintain tight monetary policies and take necessary measures to bring inflation down.
“We are working hard to make the economy leap forward once again. We are holding two fragile balls in our hands. One is the management of the fiscal and monetary policies in a delicate manner and the other is the sensitivities of the business world. We will strike a balance between those two,” he said.
Albayrak reminded that the government decided to keep the value-added tax and special consumption tax reduction in place in order to support job creation and to stimulate economic activity.
“We will closely watch the markets and take necessary steps,” he vowed.
The minister also noted that credit costs have been on decline thanks to the measures taken to support small and medium-sized companies and craftsmen through debt structuring and new loan facilities.
“Over the past two months alone, interest rates have fallen more than 10 points. Credit costs are falling and will continue to drop,” Albayrak said.