Turkey urges public to shop price fixers with mobile phone app

Turkey is encouraging consumers to use specially-designed mobile phone apps to catch businesses charging exorbitant prices for goods, the country’s trade minister said.

Shoppers can download the apps then scan barcodes on goods with their mobile phones to check the price paid by retailers for the products.

If people find the mark-ups extortionate, they can use the apps to report the businesses to the government by taking photos, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said, according to Karar newspaper.

Turkey has blamed excessive inflation, which reached a 15-year high of 25.2 percent in October, on price manipulators as well as foreign powers who, it said, were responsible for a currency crisis last year. The lira slumped 28 percent against the dollar in 2018, spurring inflation and a surge in interest rates.

Measures the government has taken against unjust price hikes – the cost of some goods rose six-fold in recent months – are paying big dividends, Pekcan said. Inspections of wholesalers, storage depots and retailers have helped reduce prices by between 36 percent and 45 percent from their peak, she said.