Feb 08 2019

Forget food prices, think of the cost of bullets - Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has scolded citizens for their concerns about surging food prices, calling these an insignificant matter compared to the expense of equipping soldiers to fight Kurdish militants in the country’s south-eastern provinces, Turkish news site T24 reported on Friday.

“Look at what you’re saying when the struggle continues in Cudi,” Erdoğan said at a rally on Friday, referring to a mountainous area in southeast Anatolia known for clashes between Turkish security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“They’re talking about tomatoes, aubergines, peppers. But just think about the price of bullets. Think of what the cost is to equip our soldiers to fight terrorists. But you’re still talking about tomatoes, potatoes, peppers,” Erdoğan said.

Price increases on staple foods have become one of the topics defining the run-up to the March local elections. Food price inflation surged to an annual 31 percent in January, and staples in Turkish kitchens such as onions and potatoes have steadily increased in price since last year.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party government blames the increases on so-called price speculators, and has encouraged citizens to inform on companies that raise prices in a way they see as unfair, sending police and inspectors to raid warehouses and levying fines in response.

Turkish Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak likened the price increases to “food terrorism” on Wednesday. Albayrak said the government would enlist municipalities to sell food at discount prices, an idea also that Erdoğan also touched on at the rally.

“If necessary, we will arrange for sales through municipalities and sell (food) cheaply,” Erdoğan said.