Turkey’s inflation at 61 percent in March

Yearly inflation in Turkey hit 61.14% in March, the country’s statistical authority said on Monday, climbing to a new 20-year high.

The figure was 54.4% in the previous month and 16.19% in March 2021, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).

The highest annual price increase last month was seen in transportation with 99.12%, followed by food and nonalcoholic beverages at 70.33% and furnishing and household equipment at 69.26%.

The lowest annual increases were posted by communication with 15.08%, education with 26.73%, and clothing and footwear with 26.95%.

Rising prices are part of an economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen a surge in gas, oil and grain prices.

Turkey’s runaway inflation also follows a series of interest rate cuts late last year.

The central bank cut rates by 5 percentage points between September and December, but they have remained unchanged at 14% this year.

The lira, which lost 44% of its value against the U.S. dollar last year, plunged to a record low of 18.41 against the greenback in December before the government revealed a currency protection scheme to boost national assets.

In an effort to soften the blow on households, the government has also implemented tax cuts on basic goods and has adjusted electricity tariffs.

The monthly inflation rate was 5.46% in March, up from 4.81% in February.

The highest monthly increase was 13.29% in transportation among the main groups, while clothing and footwear posted the lowest inflation with 1.78%, according to TurkStat.

A group of 15 economists projected an average annual rise of 60.95% in consumer prices in March, an Anadolu Agency (AA) survey found last week.