Opposition leader asks supermarkets not to raise prices of essential foods in winter

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The leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has urged the management of supermarkets not to increase basic food prices in winter amid a sharp drop in Turks’ purchasing power due to double-digit inflation and a currency crisis shaking the country’s economy.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Thursday tweeted a letter he had sent to supermarket management urging them not to hike basic food prices for three months of winter and asking Turks to bear witness to it.

Listing flour, oil, milk, bulgur, pasta, lentils, eggs, cheese, salt and a different kind of vegetable every month in the letter as the “10 products of survival,” the CHP leader asked supermarkets not to increase their prices so that people in Turkey could “get through” the winter.

“I’m aware that this request is asking you to lose money on those products. But we have to do this for our people,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, vowing to make up for the loss that would stem from their “sacrifice” when the CHP comes to power in the 2023 elections.

Turkish police last week detained hundreds of people protesting the rapidly rising cost of living, mainly caused by a steep fall in the value of the lira.

The Turkish currency dropped to a record low of more than 14 to the dollar on Wednesday before recouping some losses after a central bank move to sell reserves.

Under pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s officially independent central bank lowered its key interest rate in November, for the third time in less than two months and despite inflation approaching 20 percent – four times the government’s target.

The cost of living is expected to rise even more in the coming days amid the lira’s sharp depreciation. Refusing to assume any responsibility for the lira’s collapse, Erdoğan said last week that the country was in a “war of economic independence.”

Erdoğan believes that high interest rates cause high inflation, the exact opposite of conventional economic thinking, and has insisted he would keep rates low, drawing widespread criticism.

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