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Progressive tax in electricity consumption ‘unconstitutional,’ bar associations say

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Seventy-six Turkish bar associations have said in a joint statement regarding recently introduced increases in energy prices that the progressive tax on electricity consumption is unconstitutional and incompatible with the principles of equity and justice, local media reported on Thursday.

Turks started 2022 with news of jacked-up prices, fueled by a currency crisis amid the highest rate of inflation in nearly two decades.

Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) announced on Jan. 1 that it had raised electricity prices by 52 percent for lower-demand households for the new year and 127 percent for high-demand commercial users, while the Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) raised natural gas prices by 25 percent for households and 50 percent for industrial users.

According to the two-stage electricity billing system, in which the EPDK set the limit as 150 kilowatt-hours, consumption up to 150 kilowatt-hours a month will cost TL 1.37 per kilowatt-hour for more than 38 million households across the country, while consumption above this limit will cost TL 2.06 per kilowatt-hour.

In the joint statement titled “Everyone has the right to use cheap energy,” the 76 associations, including those of İstanbul and Ankara, on Thursday underlined that accessible and affordable energy was a basic human right.

The lawyers said the progressive tax violated Articles 2, 10 and 167 of the constitution, which guarantees rule of law, equality before the law and the sound and orderly functioning of the markets for money, credit, capital and goods and services by preventing the formation of monopolies and cartels.

According to the bar associations, the progressive tax in energy consumption also violated Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the prohibition of discrimination.

Noting that the electricity bills of lawyers’ offices, facilities, campuses and bar association buildings also reached exorbitant amounts after the hike in prices, the associations jointly announced that they would seek legal remedies to “reduce the increases in energy prices to a more equitable level for our citizens.”

Thousands of people in eastern Ağrı province and Muğla in the west last week protested in the streets against the rising electricity prices they have faced since the beginning of the year.

The protesters said in a statement that there had been a two- to threefold increase in the electricity bills they received over the past month and that some of the merchants in the city had to pay electricity bills surpassing their monthly rent, demanding that the government roll back the price hikes.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also organized protests across the country on Wednesday, with the party’s local organizations urging the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to withdraw recent price hikes in press statements released simultaneously in all 81 provinces.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a video he tweeted late on Wednesday that he wouldn’t pay his electricity bills until President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rolls back recently introduced increases in energy prices.

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