Turkey's workers received just 20 billion of 500 billion lira pandemic relief package - opposition

The Turkish government has given only 20 billion ($2.9 billion) of a 500 billion lira ($72.9 billion) economic relief package to stem the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic to the country’s workers, an opposition lawmaker said.

 Families in need have received a mere four percent of the relief package announced by the Ministry of Ministry of Treasury and Finance, Bianet news site quoted main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Vice Chair Veli Ağbaba as saying on Tuesday. 

Turkey’s Ministry of Ministry of Treasury and Finance in March unveiled a 500 billion-lira relief package, which includes support to low-income households and workers hit by the fallout of the pandemic.

The 20 billion lira has been distributed among a total of 1.3 million employees who have taken unpaid leave, 3.5 million are benefitting from short-time work allowance, 3.5 million households received a one time 1,000 lira relief payment and another 717,00 are receiving unemployment allowance since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Turkey in March, Ağbaba said.

The economic fallout caused by the ongoing global pandemic has pummelled Turkey’s already suffering financial sector, and production and services in many other industries fell after calls for self-isolation measures. Moreover, the devalued Turkish lira weakened to a record low of 7.269 per dollar in May.

The government has banned employers from laying staff off during the pandemic, but allowed them to place workers on unpaid leave or cut their hours, leading to an explosion in the number of people who are still employed on paper but are receiving state support to cover part of their lost income.