Turkey’s tax revenue from alcohol exceeded budgets of 7 ministries in 2020

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Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) earned TL 16.5 billion ($1.9 billion) from a special consumption tax on alcoholic beverages in 2020, which is more than the combined budgets of seven ministries in the same year, Turkish media reported on Monday.

Treasury and Finance Minister Lütfi Elvan on Monday revealed the amount in response to a parliamentary question posed by Ömer Fethi Gürer, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

The amount announced by Elvan surpasses the sum allocated by the AKP government for each of the seven ministries in Turkey, including the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce, in 2020, local media reports said.

“What was the total amount of tax revenue received from alcoholic beverages in our country in 2019 and 2020?” Gürer asked Elvan, who replied that it was TL 14.7 billion ($1.7 billion) in 2019 and TL 16.5 billion ($1.9 billion) in 2020, according to data received from the ministry’s Directorate General of Public Accounts.

The special consumption tax, which drastically affects the price of alcohol and cigarettes in Turkey, is updated every January and July on the basis of changes in the producer price index.

In January Turkey raised consumption taxes on alcoholic beverages by 17.07 percent, increasing the cost of a 70 cc bottle of the traditional anise-flavored alcoholic drink rakı from TL 279.29 ($33.70) to TL 326.99 ($39.40).

Rising alcohol prices in Turkey, caused mainly by higher taxes, have pushed Turks to produce and consume more bootleg spirits in recent years. This has resulted in a rise in alcohol poisoning as more people turn to black-market alternatives.

According to a report announced by CHP Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba in December, at least 500 people in the country died of poisoning from bootleg alcohol in 2020.

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