14 months into pandemic, Erdoğan announces one-time aid package for businesses

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Fourteen months after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday announced a stimulus package of TL 4.6 billion ($555 million) for some 1.5 million business owners in the country in a bid to help alleviate the financial strain caused by the pandemic.

The president announced the much-awaited aid package, which fell short of meeting expectations, following a Cabinet meeting at his presidential palace.

As part of the aid package, cafes, wedding halls and theme parks, among other businesses hit by the pandemic, will be given a one-time payment TL 5,000 ($600), while restaurants, taxi drivers, barbers, musicians, car washes and others will receive TL 3,000 ($360).

Erdoğan also announced additional support for the agriculture sector.

Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have been attracting harsh criticism for failing to provide sufficient aid to businesses to offset the economic impact of the pandemic.

With Turkey’s double-digit inflation, sinking national currency and businesses in trouble, many Turks have been struggling financially.

Erdoğan’s announcement on Monday came as the country came out the strictest lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic.

The government on April 29 imposed the lockdown, which ran through May 16, as the country saw a soaring number of coronavirus infections, exceeding an average of 60,000 daily cases in mid-April.

Erdoğan announced the lockdown without revealing any relief package for businesses affected by the pandemic.

The World Bank in a report published last month said Turkey’s poverty level rose from 10.2 percent in 2019 to 12.2 percent in 2020.

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