7 out of 10 Turkish people living in debt, union says

A report released by the Turkish Public Services Employees Union’s (Genel-Iş) on Wednesday said 70 percent of Turkey’s population is living in debt.

The report titled “Income inequality and poverty during the COVID-19 period in Turkey” said 59 million people had debts other than housing and related costs, with poverty increasing by 8.4 percent in the last two years.

Genel-İş, which is affiliated to the leftist Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), said the country’s per capita national income was among the lowest in Europe at $7,715.

A slump in value of the Turkish lira has driven high-levels of inflation, eroding wages and putting pressure on housed incomes, with many now struggling to afford basic necessities  

The Turkish central bank recently indicated that it would raise interest rates in an effort to tackle inflation, despite long-standing opposition from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But doing so will likely add to the cost of borrowing, to which much of the country is vulnerable.

On Wednesday, the central bank kept interest rates unchanged at 17 percent.