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Households receiving gov’t assistance in Turkey up nearly 1.5 mln since 2018: report

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The number of people experiencing financial difficulties in Turkey has increased dramatically in the past five years, with households receiving government assistance seeing an increase of nearly 1.5 million since 2018, the Sözcü daily reported on Monday, citing official data.

The Family and Social Services Ministry’s 2023 activity report released over the weekend indicated that the number of households receiving assistance had increased from 3.4 million in 2018 to 4.9 million in 2023, with the total assistance provided reaching TL 305.9 billion ($9.4 billion) last year.

The assistance, provided by the ministry and the Social Assistance and Solidarity Encouragement Fund (SYDTF), was only TL 43 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2018. It increased to TL 55 billion ($1.7 billion) in 2019, TL 69 billion ($2.1 billion) in 2020, TL 97.8 billion ($3 billion) in 2021, TL 151.9 billion ($4.7 billion) in 2022 and TL 305.9 billion ($9.4 billion) in 2023.

The number of citizens receiving government assistance increased from 17.6 million in 2022 to 19.9 million in 2023, according to the report.

Among the types of assistance provided in 2023 were electricity consumption support and food aid. While electricity support was provided to 4.3 million households in 2023, amounting to a total of TL 8.67 billion ($268 million), food aid was extended to 3.5 million people in 957,164 households.

Sözcü said the main reason for the dramatic surge in the number of Turkish citizens receiving government assistance was the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s unsuccessful economic policies.

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 Recep Tayyip 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 lira, which lost more than half of its value against the dollar in 2021 alone and plummeted by 29 percent in 2022, experienced a further decline of nearly 37 percent in 2023. It has weakened more than 9 percent this year, falling to a record low of 32.39 per dollar on Monday. The lira has been the worst performer in emerging markets for several years running due largely to economic and monetary policy concerns under Erdoğan’s government.

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