Turkish citizens line up to buy cheap bread as inflation hits harder

As the lira’s plunge in value and surging inflation erode earnings, many people in Istanbul have taken to waiting in line for the municipality’s cheap bread as they try to make small savings in their household budgets.

In the city’s Sultangazi district, dozens waited to buy bread at a kiosk run by the municipality, saying growing economic woes left them no choice.

“The people now are in such a tight spot that we count every one, five, 10, 20 lira,” said Ozcan Kethuda, 50, after buying bread for his family.

Ramazan Kambay said his family’s economic situation had worsened sharply. They used to get by on 1,000 lira a week, half going on food. With the collapse in the lira, that is now worth just $73 – no longer sufficient for their needs. “If you get 1,000 a week it’s not enough,” he said.

Istanbul municipality sells bread at 1.25 lira (9 U.S. cents) or around half the price in regular bakeries, and has almost doubled bread output to some 1.5 million loaves a day to meet demand.

In November alone, the lira lost some 30% of its value, while official annual inflation jumped to 21.3%, after the central bank slashed its policy interest rate to 15% from 19% since September.

According to a municipality agency, the cost of living has surged 50% in a year, with rents rising 71% and many basic household goods’ prices leaping between 75% to 138%.

President, Erdogan says the government is addressing difficulties faced by ordinary Turks as it pushes through a new growth-focused economic policy focused on exports, production and investment.

“We are taking steps to solve the problems which our people are facing in their daily lives.” he said in a speech in the southeastern province of Siirt on Saturday, saying wage hikes would lighten the burden for poorer people.

He blamed “greedy opportunists” for recent “extortionate” price rises, saying the government was being attacked through the economy for the last three years, but that “our nation understands and supports us.”


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