Turkish jewelers irked at plans to force them to deposit 500 grams of gold with state banks

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A draft regulation by Turkey’s trade ministry which will stipulate that jewelers deposit 500 grams of gold with state-owned banks as “security” has drawn the ire of business owners, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

The draft Regulation on Jewelry Trade requires that people who engage in the jewelry business be high school graduates who have not filed bankruptcy in the past and who will have 500 grams of gold deposited with state-owned banks, a sum they will not be able to use for the time they work as jewelers.

If the regulation is enacted, state banks are expected to receive more than 20,000 kilograms of gold from approximately 40,000 jewelers in the country, a sum of more than $1.1 billion.

Jewelers branded the regulation as draconian, while some likened it to arbitrary taxation employed by monarchs centuries ago.

“They are robbing tradespeople now,” said İlhami Özcan Aygun, a lawmaker from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), underlining that the draft regulation was a low point in the government’s efforts to tackle economic hardship.

Many Turkish social media users ridiculed the situation, caricaturing it as “government breaking into jewelry stores” and posting mock headlines referring to robbery news tropes.

Turkey’s banks are suffering from soaring non-performing loans as the country is embroiled in a slow-burning economic crisis.

According to data provided by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), finances-related suicides went from 7.3 percent of overall suicides in 2018 to 9.4 percent in 2019. With a year-on-year food price inflation of 19.75 percent and a yearly average inflation of 16.16 percent, Turkey leads OECD countries in food inflation, ranking second globally after Argentina.

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