Turkish gov’t to allow onion, potato imports as prices skyrocketing
ANKARA / ISTANBUL
The government is set to allow potato and onion imports in certain amounts and from certain countries in an effort to curb prices, which have recently skyrocketed.
The dramatic rise in basic food products including potato, onion and milk products, have stirred public debate on social media and drawn criticism from opposition parties.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said the government closely followed sharp increases in various food products.
“We will take measures to prevent dramatic price increases in some food products, including onions. We will allow onion and potato imports from certain countries and in certain amounts,” Zeybekci said in a televised interview on June 21.
In Istanbul, the cost of one kilogram of onion rose 212 percent to 6.5 Turkish Liras ($1.4) over the past month. One kilo of onion was sold for around 1.3 liras last June. Potato prices also rose to 6 liras ($1.3) in June, a 94 percent month-on-month increase. One kilo of potato was around 1.5 liras last June.
There have also been sharp increases in almost all milk products, with butter seeing the highest hike.
The price rises come amid persistently high consumer inflation and a plunging value of the Turkish Lira, with social media jokers noting that “the onion exchange rate is now even higher than the dollar exchange rate.”
Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), voiced criticism on June 21.
“For the first time, one kilo of onion costs more than one dollar in Turkey. There is a big problem in the economy if this is happening,” İnce said ahead of a meeting with the board members of the country’s top business organization, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), in Istanbul.
He added that the Turkish economy was fragile, saying the maintenance of the rule of law and democratic principles are a prerequisite to solving economic troubles.