Turkish leader: Each firm should hire one jobless person

The Turkish economy has dropped off since 2012, with economic growth slowing to four percent last year and unemployment at over 10 percent

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday came up with a novel scheme to rein in the country’s high unemployment levels, saying that every company should take on one unemployed person.

Turkey’s main private sector organization, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), has around one-and-a-half million members, Erdogan said in a speech to business leaders.

“If each member takes on one person... that would mean work for 1.5 million unemployed people” said Erdogan.

“Unfortunately, we cannot take our money to the grave. It remains here. In that case, let’s give work to those who don’t have any,” he told a conference on health and work security in Istanbul.

“What would a company lose?” he asked rhetorically.

“Will it collapse if it hires one person? No, on the contrary, it will benefit. It’s as simple as that, “he concluded, to measured applause from the assembled business leaders.

Regularly accused of populism, it is not the first time the business community the Turkish president’s interventionist approach on economic issues has worried the business community.

He has already made repeated calls on Turkey’s central bank to lower interest rates, at the risk of boosting inflation.

After a prosperous decade, the Turkish economy has dropped off since 2012, with economic growth slowing to four percent last year, a high public spending deficit and unemployment at over 10 percent.

The country has also been shaken by a series of bombings, attributed to Kurdish nationalists or the ISIS group, which have left its tourism sector in crisis.

Nonetheless Standard and Poor’s on Friday upgraded its outlook for Turkey’s credit rating, judging the prospects for the nation’s economy to be stable despite political instability that may dampen growth and reform plans.

Erdogan’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Thursday that he was quitting.