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Erdoğan’s 2023 Vision Turns into Public Misery!

The messages delivered by President Erdoğan of the ruling AKP at yesterday’s Overseas Contracting Services Award Ceremony regarding the economy were astonishing. He claimed that the current economic problems were the result of political games being put into practice. He stated, “We have come this far by struggling with those who want to keep Turkey in the grip of interest rates, exchange rates, and inflation.” However, Erdoğan’s most striking statement was, “With the enthusiasm of having realized most of our 2023 vision, we have set our sights on 2053.”

Erdoğan insists they have realized most of their 2023 vision. Is that really the case? What were the AKP’s 2023 goals, and which of these goals has the government achieved?

Even official figures reveal a complete fiasco when it comes to the regime’s 2023 objectives. Neither the target for gross national income nor inflation or unemployment has been met.

At the end of 2012, the government announced over 100 items of economic, political, and infrastructure goals for 2023, which marked the 100th anniversary of the Republic.

The most ambitious among these goals was to increase the annual gross domestic product (GDP) to $2 trillion, aiming to place Turkey among the world’s top 10 largest economies. The goal also included raising per capita income to over $25,000, with exports reaching $500 billion.

But what’s the reality?

In the 10th Development Plan, the GDP target for 2023 was set at $2 trillion. However, in the 11th Development Plan announced in July 2019, this figure was reduced to $1.1 trillion. The GDP stood at TRY 7.2 trillion (approximately $802.7 billion) in 2021. Last year, it reached $905.5 billion. If the $1 trillion GDP target for this year is achieved, it would be considered a “success.”

This is a resounding failure.

AKP’s 2023 goal for per capita income was $25,000. From 2012 to last year, per capita income consistently declined for seven years. In 2021, per capita GDP was TRY 85,672 or $9,539 in U.S. dollars. The average exchange rate in 2021 was 8.98 TRY per dollar.

With the revised per capita income of approximately $10,618 according to 2022 population data, Turkey slipped to 79th place globally compared to the previous year. Even half of the goal couldn’t be achieved!

One of AKP’s major promises was to be among the top 10 economies by 2023. According to IMF data, Turkey, which was the 19th largest economy in the world in 2020, fell to 21st place in 2021 with a GDP of $802.7 billion. In the latest report published in October 2022, Turkey climbed back to the 20th place for 2021 as data was updated. For Turkey to make it to the top 10, its GDP would need to reach $2 trillion!

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Again, this goal is far from being achieved!

The AKP’s export target for 2023 was set at $500 billion, as declared by Erdoğan himself three years ago. However, the former Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Adil Karaismailoğlu, stated last year that the export goal for 2050 was $500 billion. So, Turkey’s $500 billion export target was postponed by 27 years!

Last year, exports reached $254.17 billion. The best-case scenario for this year’s export target is $385 billion. The $500 billion target for 2023 is also a fabrication.

AKP’s 2023 end-of-year inflation target was 5 percent. Even with the controversial figures from TUIK (Turkish Statistical Institute), annual inflation today is at 47.83 percent. The Central Bank’s year-end inflation forecast is 58 percent! According to economists, it is virtually impossible for inflation to drop below 65 percent in 2023. Inflation is expected to peak around 70 percent in May 2024. In summary, single-digit inflation appears to be out of reach even in 2025, let alone 2023.

Another goal was to close the current account deficit and achieve a surplus. According to the payment balance data announced by the CBRT (Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey) in May 2023, the current account deficit was $7.933 billion. Turkey recorded a $5.4 billion current account deficit in April, and the 12-month current account deficit was $57.8 billion, reaching the highest level in the past decade!

The Medium-Term Program predicted a total current account deficit of $37 billion for 2022. However, the actual current account deficit for the entire year of 2022 was $48.8 billion.

According to provisional data from the Ministry of Trade, while the trade deficit reached $12.4 billion in July 2023, the deficit for the first seven months was $73.6 billion. The export-to-import ratio dropped by 1.5 points to 61.9 percent.

Lowering unemployment to 5 percent was another goal. According to TUIK data, the number of unemployed people in the second quarter of 2022 reached 3.337 million. The unemployment rate was at 9.6 percent, while the broader definition of unemployment was at 24.2 percent. The number of people in the broader definition of unemployment increased by 1.6 million in a year, reaching approximately 9.2 million. Moreover, 90 percent of officially registered unemployed individuals are not receiving unemployment benefits.

Almost a third of the country is in need of assistance.

Reducing the population below the poverty line was another goal. According to Türk-İş (Turkish Confederation of Labour Unions) data, in July 2023, the poverty line for a family of four (only considering food expenses) reached 11,658 Turkish Lira. The poverty threshold was calculated as 37,974 Turkish Lira. Even the minimum wage, raised to 11,402 Turkish Lira last month, falls below the poverty line!

According to data from the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, approximately 6 million households (roughly 24 million people, considering four members per household) are receiving social assistance for various categories, including food, heating, health, and housing.

People can no longer afford their rent, electricity, and gas bills, yet according to Erdoğan, most of the 2023 visions have been realized!

The citizens’ situation speaks for itself. Could Erdoğan be talking about his personal or close circle’s vision?

This article written by Yusuf Dereli was first published in TR724.com and translated from Turkish into English by Politurco.

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