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Turks start June with new hikes in natural gas, electricity prices amid economic crisis

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Turks have started June with news of yet another increase in natural gas and electricity prices, fueled by a currency crisis amid the highest rate of inflation in nearly two decades in a country where a staggeringly high cost of living has become the new normal, local media reported on Wednesday.

Turkey’s national distributor the Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) on Wednesday said natural gas prices had been raised by 30 percent for households, 16.3 percent for gas used in electricity production and 10.2 percent for gas used in industry.

This comes after a 35 percent hike in household gas prices in April.

“The public knows that with the impact of the perfect storm in global and European energy markets, consumers have been left exposed to excessive energy prices,” BOTAŞ said.

Separately, Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) raised electricity prices by around 15 percent for lower-demand households and 25 percent for high-demand commercial users, according to the Official Gazette.

Turkey imports virtually all its energy, leaving it vulnerable to the big price rises seen this year, and soaring world energy costs in recent months sharply raised the import bill, Reuters said on Wednesday.

High inflation and lira weakness have become a major headache for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ahead of elections set for mid-2023, with polls showing dwindling support for him and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over the economic strains.

Annual inflation hit 70 percent in April, according to official data, and May figures are due out on Friday.

According to a Reuters poll, annual inflation is expected to have risen to 76.5 percent due to high energy and food prices and the weakening lira, with the end-year forecast at 63.5 percent.

The lira was flat at 16.4275 at 0757 GMT, having weakened 20 percent this year in addition to a 44 percent slide in 2021 following a series of unorthodox interest rate cuts sought by president Erdoğan.

Over the past several years Turkey has been suffering from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and unemployment, as well as a poor human rights record. President Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

The country is currently in the middle of an economic crisis as food and fuel prices have more than doubled in the last few months. An increasing number of Turks have complained on social media about rising electricity bills and falling into debt. Many have said even basic foods such as vegetables have become a luxury as prices have risen by nearly 400 percent.

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