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CHP deputy claims Turkey will sign IMF deal after local elections in March

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Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Mehmet Bekaroğlu on Thursday said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government would sign a deal with International Monetary Fund (IMF) after local elections scheduled for March 31.

“[The government] has no other choice,” he said during a press conference following a debate over next year’s budget in parliament.

“The deal, which should have been signed two years ago, will cost the country four or five times more than it would have then,” Bekaroğlu said, adding that the government makes this kind of wrong decision because it prioritizes winning elections.

Turkey has been experiencing a currency crisis, with the lira losing almost 40 percent of its value against the US dollar in 2018.

This summer the lira plunged as low as 7.20 to the dollar, which sparked a rumor that Turkey would have to make a deal with the IMF.

However, President Erdoğan on Oct. 7 said Turkey has “closed the book on the IMF, not be opened again.”

The IMF has become a recurring theme in Erdoğan’s success rhetoric as he always refers to Turkey’s repayment of an IMF loan extended in 2001, when a serious crisis hit the Turkish economy. Thus, an IMF deal would amount to admitting economic failure of the incumbent government.

The most urgent economic problem stemming from the currency crisis is high inflation, against which the government declared an “all-out war.”

Finance Minister Berat Albayrak on Wednesday announced that Turkey would cut taxes in several sectors including automotives, white goods and furniture and would continue to take measures to bring down inflation.

“These steps indicate the panic in economy management,” CHP deputy Bekaroğlu said.

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