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Turks welcome autumn with 20 pct hike in utility prices amid economic crisis

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Turks have started autumn with news of yet another increase in natural gas and electricity prices, fueled by a currency crisis amid the highest rate of inflation in more than two decades in a country where a staggeringly high cost of living has become the new normal, local media reported on Thursday.

Turkey’s national distributor the Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) on Thursday said natural gas prices had been raised by 20.4 percent for households, 49.5 percent for gas used in electricity production and 50.8 percent for gas used in industry.

This comes after a 30 percent hike in household gas prices in June.

Reminding that Turkey imports more than 99 percent of the natural gas it uses, BOTAŞ stated that the pandemic and the war in Ukraine caused high increases in natural gas prices in global energy markets.

Separately, Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) raised electricity prices by around 20 percent for lower-demand households and 30 percent for users from the public and private sector and other users. A 50 percent increase in prices was also announced for electricity used in industry.

Also recalling the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the EPDK said, “In this process,  which is also described as the ‘global energy crisis,’ extraordinary increases were seen in the prices of almost all raw materials, and this situation negatively affected the energy production costs in our country.”

High inflation and lira weakness have become a major headache for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ahead of elections set for mid-2023, with polls showing dwindling support for him and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over the economic strains.

Annual inflation hit a 24-year high of nearly 80 percent in July, according to official data, and August figures are due out on Sept. 5.

Over the past several years Turkey has been suffering from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and unemployment, as well as a poor human rights record. President Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

The country is currently in the middle of an economic crisis as food and fuel prices have more than doubled since the beginning of the year. An increasing number of Turks have complained on social media about rising electricity bills and falling into debt. Many have said even basic foods such as vegetables have become a luxury as prices have risen by nearly 400 percent.

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