Turkey sees 35 percent jump in millionaires during pandemic

Turkey has registered a 35 percent increase in millionaires since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Karar newspaper reported on Sunday.

The country’s millionaires increased their wealth by 552.5 billion lira ($67 billion) to reach 2.9 trillion lira ($352 billion) since March of last year, according to Karar. 

The number of people with over one million liras in their accounts in March 2020, when Turkey registered its first COVID-19 case, was 246,136 and this number hit 332,094 as of March this year, it said.

As of March of this year, 837. 2 billion lira ($101 billion) of the millionaires’ wealth was in Turkish lira, 1.7 trillion ($206 billion) in foreign currencies and 57.9 billion ($7 billion) in precious metal funds, Karar reported. 

The soaring number of millionaires in the country arrives as the Turkish lira has slumped dramatically this year and the currency has lost half its value since a 2018 currency crisis.

Inflation in the country reached a six-month high in March of 16.19 percent and unemployment remains high, at 13.4 percent.

Turkey’s economic downturn has led to a surge in foreign currency deposits and cryptocurrency trading as investors seek gain from Bitcoin’s surging value and protect themselves against inflation.

Meanwhile, a total of 16.8 million people in Turkey depend on social aid while 21.2 percent of the country earn below the poverty rate, according to data from the Turkish Presidential 2020 Programme.

The income of the richest 20 percent of the country is 7.8 times that of the poorest 20 percent of Turkey, according to the data.