Gov’t debt held by Turkey’s central bank exceeds 10 pct of assets: report

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The share of government debt among the Turkish central bank’s assets exceeded 10 percent this week, data showed on Wednesday, as it continues buying bonds as part of quantitative-easing measures since the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters.

The central bank held some 75.6 billion lira ($11.14 billion) of government debt as of June 8, up from 19 billion lira at the end of 2019.

It has bought more than 50 billion lira of bonds since the end of March, shortly after the first coronavirus case in the country was announced. Those purchases include some 23 billion lira from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The central bank has set the bond purchase limit at 10 percent of its assets, up from 5 percent, but the debt from the Unemployment Insurance Fund is not included in that quota. The move was aimed at continuing stimulus meant to backstop the economy and government finances in the face of the coronavirus fallout.

The government has tapped the insurance fund to provide support for citizens who have lost work hours or were laid off, through methods such as unemployment and short-labor pay.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that since March more than 3 million people had benefited from the short-labor pay, which provides additional wages to employees whose work hours are cut short. He said around 5 billion lira had been disbursed.

At the end of February, the Unemployment Fund had 131.6 billion lira, a large part of which consisted of Treasury bonds.

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