Turkey central bank to transfer tens of billions of liras to Treasury

(Updates story with central bank statement in second paragraph.)

Turkey’s central bank will transfer tens of billions of liras to the Treasury from last year’s profits and from its precautionary reserves.

The bank in Ankara will distribute advanced dividends from its 2019 profit plus reserves from its profits of 2018, a figure that amounts to a total of 40.5 billion liras ($6.9 billion), it said in a statement on Monday. It took the decision at an extraordinary meeting of its board earlier in the day.

The central bank’s move comes after it distributed tens of billions of liras to the Treasury last year to help fund budget spending. The cash included 33.7 billion liras from its 2018 profit approved at a similar extraordinary meeting last January. The bank normally makes such decisions in April.

The ruling came aa the government reported on Friday that the budget deficit for December surged by an annual 68 percent to 30.8 billion liras, the biggest monthly shortfall of last year. The deficit for the whole of 2019 widened by 70 percent to 123.7 billion liras. That compared with a government goal of 80.6 billion liras.

The government is seeking funds to help lift the economy out of a severe downturn sparked by a currency crisis in 2018 and to meet a goal of growing the economy by 5 percent this year.