On one hand, there is a matter of life and death, while on the other hand there is the risk that living conditions, already battered by the crisis, will get worse. Indeed, the priority is staying alive, but it is also a huge mystery how life will go on afterward. The agony of the economic model based on consumption and construction was experienced in the last crisis with tens of thousands losing their jobs and widespread poverty. It is difficult to imagine what kind of destruction coronavirus will add to this. This is a question the entire world is pondering.
Yet, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in Turkey is not taking even a bit of notice. It is keen on maintaining the infected economic model no matter what. It has already shown its preference by easing the hand of the employer through credits, loans, tax and incentives. Oddly enough, in an epidemic in which everyone has to stay at home, they are opting for practices that make consumption attractive.
Well, will things improve through faith in God, prayer, and bailout packages that make the bosses smile?
Just as the approach of using “dollars, weapons, crises, and conspiracies” did not prevent the economic crisis from creating a new army of unemployed people and the spread of poverty, the same paradigm does not seem to possibly prevent the destruction that is being caused by the virus. How long can one hide the fact that even as of today, tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs for an unknown period? Not including them in measurement packages corresponds to what in real life?
Let us make a rough projection, item by item, how many employees the virus epidemic has affected and will affect.
According to SGK data, except for public and temporary work places, in Turkey there are 1,791,956 private workplaces. The number of insured workers in these places is 12,655,273. More than half of them are in the service sector.
In the first stage, as a measure taken because of the epidemic, close to 150,000 workplaces were closed. These were mostly cafes, bars, hairdressers, restaurants, tea gardens, cinemas and sports halls. These venues have an average staff of one to nine people. In other words, 200,000 to 1,000,000 people immediately lost their jobs for an indefinite period.
Then restrictions were introduced to shopping malls. Up until now, 40 malls have been closed totally and the rest have had their hours restricted. The branches of about 180 companies located in shopping malls were locked down. The number of people working in shopping malls, according to the data provided by the Council of Shopping Centers, is 530,000. The association stated that 70 percent of the stores in malls have closed. These shopping centers are mostly in major cities and two-thirds of the staff working there have temporarily lost their jobs.
The main sector the virus has directly affected in the first stage is indeed the service sector. The retail, food and beverage, accommodation and travel businesses have emerged as sensitive areas within the sector. If we include ancillary services, the total is 519,949 workplaces and 2,438,635 workers.
Furniture, textile and wholesale trade are next in line to be affected. The number of workplaces for this group is 234,680, and the number of workers is 2,007,821.
One of the most dangerous lines of work right now regarding the spread of the epidemic is transportation and courier activities, which have not experienced a serious cut yet. However, considering their relationship with retail and wholesale trade, it means in a short time there will be serious problems in that field as well. In this field, there are 21,441 workplaces and 295,656 workers.
When those sectors are reviewed and we consider those who are directly affected by staying at home, we can say that the means of living of 4,446,456 workers are under serious risk in 754,629 workplaces. If we add construction to this, which has 1,218,806 insured workers and is to suspend its activities shortly, then the number of workers is close to 6 million. If their families are included, then it is not an exaggeration to estimate that the epidemic, at the first glance, will hit more than 15 million people economically. Moreover, it must also be said that these are the least organized, most insecure and low-income branches of work.
It is not just for nothing that many states in the world are giving salary and job guarantees and offering income support. It is a simple economic rule that when the power of mass consumption is damaged, then what you produce does not have much of a meaning.
If the services sector, which keeps both consumption and employment alive in the country, collapses, then there will not be an economy left that we could save with prayers and so on. Unless a series of measures is implemented to provide job and income guarantees that starts with the most economically threatened workers, the virus wins in every scenario.
The public tender and the tax incentive blatantly given to Kalyon Construction last week is the product of a cartelization that has created its own oligarchs. Turkey’s regime is the product of this blend in which a particular class has effortlessly seized a significant portion of the nation’s reserves, its accumulation, and in fact, its wealth.
There is a need for a segment that will wear the outfit shown at the podium in Hagia Sophia in neighborhoods. The soul and the spirit that has been infused into the AKP government has to have reciprocity in the streets. The sword at the Hagia Sophia mosque opening will turn into a stick if needed.
Since Erdoğan's AKP is not able to open an umbrella that would cover everyone, it reinforces the point where it can give a “wheel alignment adjustment” to everyone. However, they know that the magnificent election results are a thing of the past.
A government-led and much-vaunted water supply project that connects Turkey to Northern Cyprus through an undersea pipeline has turned into a tender scandal.
The relationship between the government and the capital class is now at a deadlock. While the “Daddy State” maintains order, it now also manages the Central Bank and meddles with foreign currency. And though the AKP-led government is solely responsible for maintaining order, its economic fate depends on external factors.
It appears that Turkey’s capital-owning class largely agrees that the pandemic has brought two opportunities. The first has to do with broadening their vast exploitation of labor. The second has to do with obtaining a strategic place in the global supply chain, which is expected to break off from China.
As the pandemic ravaged Turkey, it turned out the government’s “public health” policies were cynically tied to commercial opportunities. In a country constrained by minimum legal control, the hospital project adjacent to the Atatürk Airport would have likely been the subject of an investigation and ended up before a high court. In fact, such things did happen in Turkey a while back.
The Wealth Fund has the freedom of incorporating any profiting institution without needing to be accountable to the parliament. Moreover, with the recent sweeping law that was passed thanks to the epidemic, the government it is now pretty much exempt from all laws including trade, tax, development and human resources.
Growth rates have shown Turkey is rapidly impoverishing. In 2019, income per capita almost collapsed. That figure which was 12.5 thousand dollars in 2013 is now around 9.1 thousand, thus making Turkey fall back behind Lebanon, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria. Turkey’s total national income has gone back from 950 billion dollars to 754 billion dollars.
Revelations have come out uncovering the ties between the Turkish state and Molham Rateb al-Drobi, a member of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. As the Gülen movement, the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-AKP foundations demonstrated, education networks have served as crucial institutional structures for Islamist circles. Such networks work as circulatory systems that allow for the movement of economic, political and ideological interests.
In the case in which too many rats are trapped in a confined space, their tails get tangled together after a while. The more they try and use their strength to save themselves, the knot tying them all together becomes tighter. They are unable to sacrifice even one tail to open up just a little bit of comfort space. At the end, they turn into a single creature, the “rat king.” It becomes uncertain which tail belongs to whom.
The ambitious mind that has been working on the extremely profitable scheme in the north of Istanbul was developed through the “sacred lot” cause of the 1970s. All those mega projects that looks meaningless when considered alone — namely the third bridge, the new Istanbul Airport, the North Marmara Highway and Kanal Istanbul — are the evolution of an old dream when thought of all together. With thousands of homes to be built, hotels, hospitals, campuses and a marina, Salvationville turns into Erdoğan City.
"A new, prospering middle class forged by new successful business and emerging from deep parts of society is gaining power and placing itself at the forefront of the bourgeoisie." Such exhilarating words had come from Ümit Boyner in 2012, the then-president of TÜSIAD, the Turkish Industry and Business Association. Was Boyner's new middle class able to achieve such an expectation?
It seems that the government is once again betting on 'global opportunities'. Dice in hand, it is eagerly putting its money on a quite worn out chance, dating from days when loans were cheap and plenty: What if it happens this time!
Court of Accounts 2018 report details massive amount of corruption within SGK. Examples show private hospitals cheated billing system using various techniques.
The government is making tailor-made legal adjustments, only to save certain companies. The latest example of this is the law enacted at the beginning of August