Turkish business leaders call for more economic steps to combat virus

Turkey’s top business leaders have called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to introduce stronger measures to boost support for the economy during the coronavirus, said Bloomberg on Friday.

Erdoğan had previously announced a 100 billion lira ($15.4 billion) package of tax cuts and payment deferrals to support the economy.

But in a letter to the Turkish president, board members of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) said that the Turkish economy needed stronger government support to tackle the crisis.

The contents of the letter have not been made public. But a source told Bloomberg, on condition of anonymity, that TÜSİAD’s main concern was a lack of guidance from the government on how long the economy would be operating under a slowdown.

“Their call to the Turkish leader shows growing discomfort among the country’s most influential businesses as they seek support to offset the weakening demand at home and in export markets led by Europe,” said Bloomberg.

One solution reportedly discussed by the group’s board would be to announce a strict, national lockdown so that the spread of the virus could be slowed quickly – allowing businesses to plan for a defined period of slowdown, to be followed by a quicker rebound.

The sentiment was echoed on Thursday by Istanbul’s mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who called for a full curfew in Turkey’s largest city to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Hundreds of thousands of businesses have shut down since the outbreak of the virus, while a gauge of confidence among Turkish manufacturers fell by the most since the 2008 global financial crisis, said Bloomberg.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Thursday that the number of new coronavirus cases had leapt by 1,196, bringing the total number of diagnoses to 3,629 and the total death toll to 75 in Turkey.