Turkish hospitals ask for discounts, restructuring for U.S. debt

Public and university hospitals in Turkey have appealed to U.S. pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies to restructure their 19 billion lira debt ($ 2.42 billion), together with a discount, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Public hospitals have offered to pay their debts at a 18 percent discount, while university hospitals offered six percent.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, had promised to repay the debt a year ago, before the rapid value loss of the lira when the debt stood at $230 million, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield said last week.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca called Satterfield’s comments “extremely unfortunate,” and said they were reminiscent of a colonial mentality. The minister said a payment plan had already been put in place.

Payments could begin as soon as Tuesday, Reuters said citing three unnamed sources. “All the debt will be paid after being restructured,” one of the sources told Reuters.

The majority of the debt was not to U.S. companies but domestic ones, two sources said.

Health Industry Employers’ Association of Turkey Chairman Metin Demir said 90 percent of companies in the sector could not cope with a 25 percent discount, citing issues of sustainability.