In a rare admission Turkey could be in economic trouble, the country’s Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that if tough measures were needed then “we will take it together”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has steadfastly denied that there are any economic problems and those that do exist, such as the rapid fall in the value of the liras, he has placed the blame on external forces opposed to his regime.
However, the comments of Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of Erdogan, have raised eyebrows, giving an indication that the regime is possibly acknowledging that there is a crisis.
Responding to questions from Justice and Development Party (also known as the AK Party) members of parliament (MPs), he said: “If there is a painful recipe we will take it all together. I take the necessary steps in my own ministry.”
Nuray Babacan, a journalist with the mass daily newspaper Hurriyet, reported in her column that Albayrak had gathered some of the AK Party MPs to evaluate economic developments. It was then that the questions arose and he gave his answer.
Albayrak told the MPs that Turkey has overcome the majority of the economic problems and his government takes structural measures to address various economic issues.
“We are making ourselves to take the necessary arrangements to strengthen our economy against future risks. You will see a decline in interest rates in the coming months,” Albayrak said.
Minister Albayrak also spoke about government funding. “ MPs are coming to us for several requests. They want roads to be completed in their constituencies. As a Finance minister, I share the budget with relevant ministries. They decide how to use their budgets,” Albayrak explained.
Albayrak defended his ministry by pointing out that each ministry needed to complete their projects by cutting wasteful expenditure and using budgets wisely.
“I don’t want to be blamed in this sense. We all take all responsibility together to fight against the crises.”
Albayrak also complained about the overseas visits undertaken by government personnel.
“When there is a meeting abroad, 10 officials go on behalf of the said ministry. The government spent a high amount of money. We have attachés representing almost all ministries in our foreign agencies. Officials in our embassies can handle all these works,” Finance Minister explained.
Albayrak clarified the government’s take on the issue of early retirement. He said that the government has no agenda to implement early retirement but he shares details of the government plans of salary increases for health workers, police and teachers.