Erdoğan announces electricity price adjustment as Turks protest hikes

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced an adjustment in the calculation of electricity prices after crowds gathered in the resort town of Bodrum and in the northwestern city of Rize to protest a recent price hike.

Erdoğan set a higher consumption limit on the lowest price tariff for electricity of 210 kilowatts per month compared with a previous 150 kilowatts in a statement after a cabinet meeting on Monday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkey raised electricity prices by 50 percent for lower consuming households and by 100 percent for the high-demand commercial users on Jan. 1 after a spike in global energy prices and a slump in the value of the lira. The lira’s losses of 44 percent last year have led to galloping inflation – the consumer price inflation rate hit 36.1 percent in December, the highest level since 2002.

A large crowd gathered outside the offices of local electricity provider Aydem in the southwestern resort of Bodrum on Monday to protest the price hikes, chanting slogans calling on Erdoğan’s government to resign, local media including the Diken news website reported.

Turkish pipeline company BOTAŞ also increased the price of natural gas by 25 percent at the start of January. On Tuesday, it announced a 14 percent hike in the price of gas supplied to power stations.

In Rize, where Erdoğan’s family resided before moving to Istanbul, the place of his birth, a crowd gathered in the city’s main square to call on the government to reverse the price increases. They also drew attention to hikes to the price of bread and petrol, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

On Monday, Erdoğan said Turkey’s citizens would have to bear the burden of high inflation for a while longer. His government has come under severe criticism from the political opposition and some economists for ordering the central bank to cut interest rates late last year despite a sharp uptick in inflation. Erdoğan claims that high interest rates are inflationary, a view that contradicts with conventional economic theory, which states rates can be used to control price increases.

Turkey imports nearly all the natural gas and fuel that it consumes, meaning it can provide no cushion against any rise in global energy prices.

Source: Ahval News