Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 18 unveiled a package of financial measures to shore up the economy against the coronavirus impact.
At a news conference after Turkey announced overnight a doubling of its confirmed cases in one day to 98, Erdoğan said Turkey would postpone debt payments and reduce tax burdens in various sectors under a 100 billion lira ($15.4 billion) package.
Erdoğan called on banks not to limit loans and for companies not to cut jobs, while vowing to support Turkish Airlines.
Among specific measures, he said Turkey’s accommodation tax was being suspended until November to support the key tourism sector, which accounts for some 12 percent of the economy.
Debt repayments of companies affected by the coronavirus will be postponed for a minimum of three months, while value-added tax and social security payments for various sectors will also be deferred for six months, Erdoğan said.
He added that value-added tax for domestic aviation was cut to 1 percent from 18 percent and there would be a doubling to 50 billion lira in the limit of the Treasury-backed credit guarantee fund, which guarantees loans to small- and medium-sized firms.
He urged employers to encourage flexible and remote working models to stem the spread of the virus.
He added that the lowest pension amount has also been increased to 1,500 Turkish liras ($231).
Erdoğan urges citizens to make personal sacrifices, stay at home
Erdoğan also advised citizens not to leave home unless necessary for three weeks and to minimize social contact until the threat of coronavirus recedes, but did not instruct people to stay away from work.
“None of our citizens must leave their homes or get in contact with anyone, unless absolutely necessary, until the threat disappears,” he said.
“Our citizens who are going to their offices should directly return to their homes at the end of the business day,” he said.
“No one has the right to put the whole society’s health at risk due to their selfishness or negligence. All of us has a responsibility of making sacrifices for the well-being and peace of the society,” Erdoğan said.
He said the government will distribute protective masks and cologne, which has natural disinfectant properties, to citizens above 65 years of age in Istanbul and Ankara.
Turkey confirmed its first case of the coronavirus early on March 11, becoming the last major economy to report an outbreak after taking what the World Health Organization (WHO) described as “vigilant, cautious” measures to delay the disease.
Since then, the government has taken a series of precautions against the spread of the virus, including shutting down schools, universities, bars, nightclubs, cinemas, cafes, spas, amusement parks and swimming pools.