Turkey steps up supervision of supermarkets in inflation battle

Turkey’s government is increasing its oversight of supermarkets and how they set prices as it battles to contain inflation running at more than 20 percent.

The government is tightening oversight of the retailers having sent a directive to the governors of all of the country’s 81 provinces, Dünya newspaper reported citing Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.

Turkey is grappling with the highest rates of inflation in a decade and a half after a currency crisis last year wiped almost a third of the value off the lira. The authorities have started legal proceedings against some food markets, after sending in local police forces to check shelves, and against wholesalers accused of hoarding goods such as onions and tomatoes.

Everyone will see positive results from the government’s efforts in a short period of time, Pekcan said, according to Dünya.

Consumer price inflation slowed to an annual 20.3 percent in December from 21.6 percent the previous month. It had hit a 15-year high of 25.2 percent in October. Faster inflation has prompted the central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate to 24 percent. Banks are charging even higher rates of interest on consumer and business loans.

The government's battle with inflation coincides with nationwide local elections on March 31, which will be the first test of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's popularity since he won enhanced executive powers at an election last June.