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Türkiye’s economic challenges significantly impact retired population

Türkiye’s economic challenges have significantly impacted its retired population, leading to a marked decline in the purchasing power of over 16 million pensioners and a notable deterioration in their living standards.

“The cost of living in Türkiye is very high, leading to disillusionment and hopelessness among people,” Ali Kemal Gumrukcu, a 70-year-old told Xinhua at the bustling downtown Kizilay district in the capital Ankara frequented by retirees.

“My dreams are over regarding the future. We used to easily eat outside or go on holidays abroad in the past, but this is now impossible because our currency has lost most of its value,” the former mining technician lamented.

Although the Turkish government hiked pensions in January, most people found it largely insufficient against the soaring inflation.

According to a survey conducted in mid-March by the Istanbul-based NG Research company, 86 percent of the respondents said that the government’s pension increase was inadequate.

The inflation rate of Türkiye stood at 68.5 percent in March, one of the highest in the world and is expected to increase further before dropping later in the year, according to official forecasts.

“When I retired 20 years ago, it was possible with a retirement bonus to buy a flat and a car, but now this is impossible,” Hasan Ogut, a former hospital administrator aged 80, told Xinhua in Kizilay.

The senior said that essentials like food and clothing have become increasingly beyond the reach of retirees. Official data indicated that food inflation surged to over 70 percent annually in March.

“It is impossible to make ends meet with our pensions,” Ogut stressed, calling on the government to improve the conditions of retirees.

“Retirees are the worst hit by inflation pressure. They are really in a very dire situation,” Senol Babuscu, a professor of finance from Ankara’s Baskent University, told Xinhua.

Türkiye currently has approximately 16.1 million retirees, a number projected to increase to 16.5 million by the end of this year.

The number of retirees may reach 30 million by 2030, as the Turkish government last year relaxed the age requirements for retirement, allowing an additional 2 million Turks to retire early, a potential long-term challenge for the country’s social security system.

The scholar said that no significant pension hikes were planned for the rest of this year, while on the other hand tax and utility price increases were on the government agenda.

“They will continue to suffer, (and) they will struggle to pay for food and cover their rent,” he added.

Following the May 2023 general elections, the Turkish government appointed a new economic management team that substantially raised interest rates and introduced a range of financial measures to curb soaring inflation. However, inflation has yet to decrease significantly, failing to provide the much-needed relief to consumers grappling with the impact of rising living costs.

Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek promised on Tuesday on social media platform X that disinflation would happen.

“We are determined to reduce inflation, reduce the current account deficit, establish budget discipline, and solve structural problems,” he said.

Famagusta Gazette