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Gov’t expenditures to please voters will cause economic hardship after election: CHP

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The government’s off-budget expenditures aiming to please voters in the first three months of 2019 during an election campaign period will result in serious economic difficulties after local polls, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Faik Öztrak has said.

“The nation is suffering while [Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak] gives the good news of a 5 billion Turkish lira [some $953 million] surplus in the [central government] budget. The minister does not know how to evaluate the budget figures,” Öztrak told reporters following a CHP Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Tuesday, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“The date of the central bank’s 34 billion lira [$6.5 billion] profit, which is normally scheduled to be paid to the Treasury in April, was brought forward to January, and a budgetary surplus was recorded because of this transaction,” Öztrak said.

Primary expenditures increased by 67 percent over January 2018 due to the upcoming elections, according to the spokesperson.

“This [34 billion lira] was meant to come in April. What will happen to the budget deficit when this amount is not included in April?” he said.

“When excluding the early dividends from the central bank, the budget, which had a surplus of 1.7 billion lira [$321 million] in January 2018 has a deficit of 28.7 billion lira [$5.4 billion] in January 2019. Now, what does this mean?” he added.

“Then you will try to cover up election expenses by saying we had a surplus,” Öztrak said.

The CHP spokesperson also stressed that municipal sales of produce is not sustainable and will cause damage to producers, not grocery stores.

“Even in the 2001 crisis, there were no lines in front of fruit and vegetable stands,” he added, referring to one of the severest financial crises Turkey has ever suffered between 2000 and 2001.

Öztrak stressed that the only thing that would decrease food prices was to bring down farmers’ input costs.

“When there are excessive price hikes in fuel, fertilizer, seeds and seedlings, the price of products on the shelves will not decrease,” he said.

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