Turkey must invite IMF in, or risk starvation, says veteran economist

With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country, Turkey will soon have to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), veteran economist and Ahval contributor Atilla Yeşilada said in a televised debate on Thursday.

“If the IMF doesn’t come to Turkey within one to two months, people in this country will perish due to the pandemic and starvation,” Yeşilada said, speaking at opposition network TELE 1.

Turkey has paid unemployment assistance to 3.5 million people in 2019, Yeşilada said, citing the Social Policies Ministry. “Do you think 3.5 million people lost their jobs last year? It was close to 10 million. What happened to the rest?”

Healthcare budget increased by 17.7 percent for 2020, the economist said. “We just lost six more extremely valuable people,” he added, referring to six doctors who lost their lives due to COVID-19 this week. Turkey has lost 211 healthcare workers since March, including 86 doctors and four dentists, according to statistics kept by the Turkish Medical Association.

“The TTB has been declared communist traitors because they told the truth,” he said. “Videos come out of hospital morgues. ICUs don’t accept patients. There is only one solution to all this.”

Turkey must brave all consequences and implement a  complete shut-down for four weeks, according to Yeşilada. “I am a capitalist, but I’m not a serial killer. For God’s sake, we will lose so many people.”

The Turkish economy experienced growth on steroids with the policies implemented by former finance minister Berat Albayrak, and banks have now stopped offering loans because there is no more money, he said.

In a total shutdown, at least four million more people will lose their jobs, two million of whom are already unofficially unemployed, according to the economist. One more million people would lose their livelihood when their small business goes bankrupt, he said.

The government must consider extensive support packages for all who lose their livelihoods, he added. “So, where else could we get the money?”

Yeşilada said Turkey needs to invite the IMF in, increase taxes on the rich, and end wasting of public money, a significant portion of which comes in the form of guarantee payments made for public-private partnership infrastructure projects like bridges and highways that don’t meet the contractually-obligated monthly use figures.