Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has warned mask producers against stockpiling, saying that the state can seize the factories otherwise.
“We can seize their factories tomorrow. We won’t hesitate to do that, we have the authority,” Soylu said late on March 22 when he joined journalist Candaş Tolga Işık’s Instagram live broadcast.
The issue came to the agenda amid the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Turkey, which prompted a high demand for face masks.
Saying that the ministry has been dealing with the issue of mask stockpiling for the past couple of days, Soylu noted that simultaneous raids were carried out on all producers early on March 21.
“Some of the mask producers were keeping masks in their depots. Our health minister called me two days ago and we held a meeting with all of our police teams. We carried out simultaneous raids on all the mask producers in Turkey at 8 a.m. yesterday. We told them to enter into agreement with our health ministry,” Soylu said.
“The health ministry will purchase them in exchange for a substantial amount of money. They have 10 to 12 hours, otherwise we can seize their factories,” he added.
On March 23, police seized 1,500 medical masks in the eastern province of Van that were smuggled in the country through customs illegally.
Another operation was carried out in the capital Ankara, where contraband masks were seized and destroyed.