It is possible to say that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu aimed to kill three birds with one stone, not two, with his visit to The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu on November 15.
First of all, it is an effort to express that the main opposition is ready to take over and manage the economy as opposed to the hostile rhetoric of President Tayyip Erdoğan, who repeatedly say that the CHP cannot handle Turkey’s economy. Therefore, it is logical for Kılıçdaroğlu to visit TOBB, which is organized in every corner of Anatolia, to convey this message.
The second aim is to tell the Union of Chambers, “We are here,” while Erdoğan has been acting as if it was the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) backyard for the past few years. It is a message of being ready to solve the problems of industrialists or trades together.
The third is to “make Erdoğan nervous”, as the CHP leader recently said in Antalya. It is a move to distract. Just like his previous Central Bank move, it is hard to think Kılıçdaroğlu’s TOBB visit to please Erdoğan.
After all, one of the things Kılıçdaroğlu said to Hisarcıkloğlu under the title of “stability in the economy” during the meeting was that “When we came (to power) there will be no frequent change of Central Bank Governors. We will entrust it to a competent person and leave it to their management.” The independence of the Central Bank is at the forefront of the issues that domestic and foreign investment circles pay attention to.
“I’m coming for a coffee”
Plan for such a visit came after Kılıçdaroğlu’s office called Hisarcıkloğlu and asked for an availability for a “coffee.” It was naturally followed by a welcoming answer from Hisarcıklıoğlu’s office and the CHP leader announced the meeting with the TOBB President.
In that announcement, he referred to the 48.8 per cent rise in natural gas price that the government announced on November 1. The rise was also criticized by Hisarcıklıoğlu, saying it would “increase production costs and inflation”. The industrialists would inevitably have to reflect this increase to their production, and the industrialists and merchants will eventually face reactions from consumers.
Kılıçdaroğlu went to the meeting with the CHP’s economy team. In addition to the Central Bank team, the CHP members who have TOBB history were also included. Hisarcıklıoğlu invited the members of the executive board. In the meeting, mostly the CHP leader talked, and he explained the CHP’s plans for economic management. TOBB sources I spoke to described the meeting as “positive”.
When the CHP leader went to the Central Bank, I reported speculations that such visits would continue. So let’s see what the next step will be. Kılıçdaroğlu gives the impression that he has started the preemptive tours as if he had ensured that he won the election.
The economy is worrisome
Yesterday, when Spain-based BBVA group announced that it was ready to buy other shares in Garanti Bank, there was a stock market rush, and some brazenly got into the delusion of “See, the dollar went below 10 liras” as if it were a great success. While I was writing these lines, when I looked at it, 1 dollar was 10,18 TL. The Turkish lira has never been so worthless. When the AKP came to power in 2002, the dollar was equal to 1,35 TL. Erdogan considered the 2013 Gezi Protests a coup attempt via crashing the economy, as the dollar rate then rose from 1.85 to 1.90 in a month.
Will the Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee reduce the interest rate further in line with Erdoğan’s request at its November 18 meeting? It is the variable we look at nowadays. It is not a prophecy to say that if it falls, the currency will rise.
While the CHP leader was talking with the TOBB president, sugar prices rose by 25 per cent. The government previously denied the price hike rumours. While the AKP was in government, one litre of diesel was rose to 8.20 TL from 1.3 TL. Agricultural areas have decreased from 26 million hectares to 23 million hectares, constructions are increasing on fertile agricultural lands, and we are importing agricultural products.
Income inequality is now at such a level that even TUSIAD, the bosses club is revolting against.
O.K. Then, let’s print unbacked money, raise the minimum wage and win the election!