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The Richest Increase Their Wealth, the Poorest Expand Their Debt

While the government claims that the Turkish economy is flourishing and the income distribution is considerably improving, a TÜİK (Turkish Statistical Institute) survey showed that the rich multiplied their fortune while the poor increased their debt. The share of the group with the highest income from total revenues was 47.4% while 69.2 of the population have installment payments or debts apart from mortgage and housing expenses.

Ayça Onuralmış

TÜİK’s (Turkish Statistical Institute) 2017 “Income and Living Conditions Survey” lays bare the growing income inequality. According to the survey, the share of the richest 20% has increased by 0.2%, reaching 47.4% while the share of the poorest 20% increased by 0.2, reaching 6.3%. The rate of permanent poverty has reached 14%. 40.8% of the population suffers from heating problem due to lack of insulation and 36.6% from leaking roofs, humid walls, decomposing window frames, 22.9% from air pollution and other environmental problems caused by traffic and industry. 28.7% of the population fails to afford some basic needs such as dishwasher, color-TV, telephone, rent, mortgage loan, payment of debts, a meal including red meat, chicken or fish every two days and heating.


The data on loan, on the other hand, show that low-income group is under a heavy burden of debt. The amount of loan used by low-income group amounts to 323 billion TL excluding housing and automobile loans, 100 billion TL of which is constituted by credit debt. The citizens find it difficult to pay their debt to banks, while the rate of debt follow-up has reached almost 6%…

According to the labor force statistics of TUİK, more than 60% of the payroll employment is paid minimum wages or less. The earnings of the minimum wage employee receiving 1600 TL a month equaled 426 dollars at the beginning of the year; in 9 months the same amount receded to about 246 dollars. In other words, the earnings of the minimum wage employee lost value by 42% in dollars in 9 months.


HDP’s (Peoples’ Democratic Party) Ankara MP Filiz Kerestecioğlu submitted a parliamentary question to the Office of Grand National Assembly of Turkey to be answered in writing by the Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak with regard to poverty and economic crisis Turkey has been suffering from. Reminding that TÜİK’s “Income and Living Conditions Survey” pertains to 2017, the pre-crisis period, and adding that as of August the annual inflation has reached almost 18%, Kerestecioğlu expressed her concern that the next year the gap between the rich and the poor will widen with the exacerbation of poverty, emphasizing that dissatisfaction with the uncertainty about the future has been increasing. Kerestecioğlu asked Minister Albayrak about “the Ministry’s opinion of the gap between the rich and the poor”.


Kerestecioğlu asked Minister Albayrak the following questions to answered:

“Do you have any program to remove this gap and create a fair income distribution so as to safeguard a humanely existence for everyone? Does your Ministry have the intention of implementing precautions against poverty, which is likely to increase next year owing to high inflation rates? Given the high inflation rates, are you planning to introduce an adjustment of pay and wage increases as was the case in Argentina? What sort of measures do you intend to take to alleviate the victimization of citizens from low-income group who fail to pay their debts and end up in court?

What steps does your Ministry plan to take to relieve citizens who have lost their jobs or have been living in fear of losing their jobs due to successive firm bankruptcies and “downsizings”?


In his speech he delivered during the activities of Digital Transformation in Industry Days, organized by TÜSİAD (Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association), Mustafa Varank, Minister of Science, Industry and Technology, claimed that Turkey has reached a very high level in terms of income distribution, access to finance, human and social development and said “By the year 2023 we would like to rate among the 10 biggest economies in the world. To this end we need a change of paradigm.”

Translation: Fahri Öz

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