Feature: Turks brace for more hardships as inflation soars

by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Surging inflation in Türkiye showed no signs of abating in September, as households were bracing for more hardships amid an expected fresh wave of price hikes for essential goods.

The annual inflation reached 83.45 percent in September, and consumer prices rose by 3.08 percent month-on-month, further hitting Turks who already struggle with high energy, food and housing costs, shows data released on Monday by the Turkish Statistical Institute.

In capital Ankara's busy commercial neighborhood of Kizilay, shoppers were complaining about the unsparing increase in the cost of living.

"Never in my life I saw such high food prices in Türkiye," said Osman Sengor, a 50-year-old construction worker and a father of four.

"It is extremely hard to make ends meet ... we have stopped buying products such as meat or butter. Believe me, fruit is now off limits in most houses," lamented Sengul Yasdag, a 58-year-old pensioner told Xinhua.

According to the retiree, after a broad 50-percent mid-year pension raise was enacted in Türkiye, living on 3,600 Turkish liras (194.40 U.S. dollars) of monthly pension was still far from being enough for her basic needs.

"It's embarrassing, but now when I go to the neighborhood market, I ask for half a kilo of vegetables," she said, adding she expected the predicaments would not quell in the upcoming months.

With surging inflation, new price increases are set to be put into practice in Türkiye, a country that is heavily dependent on imports and swamped with economic woes unseen in decades.

Early in September, Turkish authorities increased the price of electricity and natural gas by 50 percent, dealing another heavy blow to citizens' pockets.

Meanwhile, a 30-50 percent hike in internet rates is expected to hit millions of users this month, according to local media.

Meat and dairy products are set to see a fresh increase of around 30 percent because of rising production costs, sector representatives said.

"We expect the developments in the dairy market to have an impact on a wide range of goods, from cheese to meat. The effects of price hikes will continue to keep food inflation high," Enver Erkan, chief economist at Istanbul's Tera Securities, commented in a note to investors.

Medicine prices have also increased by 68 percent since the start of the year and another hike is expected in December, the Turkish Pharmaceutical Association said last week.

Contrary to raising interest rates, a conventional policy response to rising inflation, Turkey has surprisingly cut interest rates by 700 basis points since last year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is adamant about going forward with its policy of low-interest rates to boost growth.

He told private broadcaster CNN Turk on Sep. 28 that he expected the key interest rate, currently at 12 percent, to hit "single digits" by the end of this year.

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