Turkey hikes minimum wage for second time this year

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Turkey on Friday substantially raised the minimum wage for the second time in a year to cushion the blow from soaring cost of living increases ahead of next year’s general election.

The hike of the net monthly take-home pay to 5,500 liras ($330) means the nominal minimum wage has nearly doubled since the end of last year.

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It stood at 2,826 liras in late December and 4,253 liras in January.

But with an official annual inflation rate of 73.5 percent – even higher in big cities such as Istanbul – the increase for the most part only compensates for an erosion in purchasing power already suffered by consumers.

The Turkish currency has lost half its value against the dollar in the past 12 months, which has fueled price rises on imported goods.

Economists warn that substantially raising the pay of a large swathe of the population is an inflationary measure that should be accompanied by interest hikes or other means of limiting spending.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejects conventional economics and affirms that high interest rates cause prices to rise.

Official data show that more than 40 percent of Turks earned the minimum wage at the start of the year.

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