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People who say Turkey’s economy worsened under AKP rule ‘ungrateful,’ pro-gov’t columnist says

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Ali İhsan Karahasanoğlu, editor-in-chief of the pro-government radical Islamist Yeni Akit newspaper, has argued in a column that Turkey’s economy is in better shape than it was back in 2002, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government came to power, accusing those who think otherwise of being “ungrateful.”

“If you don’t make milk pudding to feed your baby but instead use baby formula, you can’t complain about poverty. It shows that your standard of living is completely different,” Karahasanoğlu said on Saturday.

The journalist was referring to the sharp increases in food prices, including baby formula, photos of which on market shelves with security devices attached to prevent theft were widely posted on social media over a month ago.

“Don’t try to create the perception [that the economy is worse than it was in 2002] just because the price of some products increased for a month or two,” Karahasanoğlu said, adding that the real problem of people who complain about poverty was their “desire to be wealthy.”

“Everybody wants to be rich, but it’s ungrateful to say you’re hungry or claim the economy deteriorated in the last 19 years. I don’t deny that there are still families who try to make ends meet on a minimum wage, but I’m saying people who think their current situation is worse than it was in 2002 are ungrateful,” he said.

The net minimum wage announced for 2021 in Turkey is TL 2,826 ($377), which is the lowest figure in US dollars for a monthly net minimum wage in the last 11 years.

According to a recent report based on Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data, a minimum wage worker in an average family of four who earned TL 2,435 ($327) for 2020 was expected to spend as little as TL 1.85 ($0.25) for each meal of a family member, which amounts to a daily outlay of only TL 22 ($2.96) for food for the household.

The results of a public opinion survey conducted in November by İstanbul Economics Research showed that 73 percent of participants when asked “What do you think about the current state of Turkey’s economy?” said it was “very poor” or “poor.”

The country’s religious authority, the Diyanet, which sent mosques a sermon to read during the Friday prayer a few weeks ago advised patience to Muslims who are suffering from financial difficulties, which is described in Turkish media reports as an attempt to cover up the AKP government’s poor performance on the economy.

The Birgün daily recently reported that the public loss in Turkey, which was only around TL 9 million ($1.19 million) in 2002, increased to TL 216 million ($28.6 million) in 2020, reaching TL 4.446 billion ($590.5 million) in total.

Public loss is the decrease in public resources as a result of a decision, transaction or action by public officials that violates legislation and that stems from their intention, fault or negligence, according to Law No 5018 on Public Financial Management and Control.

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