Turkey to do more to fight food inflation, Albayrak says

Turkey will take further steps to counter food price inflation, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Thursday, to combat what he has called “food terror” after food prices surged 31 percent year-on-year in January.

The jump in food prices, fuelled by poor weather, lifted annual January consumer price inflation to 20.35 percent year-on-year, down from a 15-year high of 25 percent in October.

“We have started taking short-, medium- and long-term steps on food inflation,” he told an exporters’ meeting in Istanbul. “We will not allow some to extend their hands and reach into the pockets of our citizens to take advantage of the situation.”

In a meeting with economy correspondents in Ankara on Wednesday, Albayrak had said: “This food terror is an operation against the nation’s throat. Some people are speculating with food,” according to broadcaster NTV.

Albayrak said in Thursday’s speech that municipalities will begin selling vegetable and fruit next week and said action would be taken against those exploiting the surge in prices.

“The harshest steps will be taken on this,” he said.

He also said agriculture, especially greenhouse farming, would be supported with state loans and regulations concerning wholesalers.

On Friday, details will be announced of a programme to support greenhouses, under which low-interest loans will be provided by the state lender Ziraat Bank, the minister said.

He added that a fall in inflation had become visible and there will be decreases in inflation and interest rates as long as fiscal and monetary policy are aligned and structural reforms are carried out.

ISTANBUL (Reuters)

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