Quick recovery expected for local businesses as reopening starts in Turkey

Originally posted by Daily Sabah on May 31, 2020

The Turkish government expects economic activities to return to pre-coronavirus levels soon and local businesses to recover quickly as the country prepares to reopen the economy from June 1 after more than two months of coronavirus-induced lockdown, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said Sunday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) Sunday, Minister Pekcan said the government is assisting more than 2 million craftspeople and artisans to cope with the economic fallout of the virus through the TL 260 billion ($38 billion) Economic Stability Shield package unveiled this March.

She noted that the pandemic reaffirmed the vital role tradespeople and craftsmen play in the daily economy and said protecting them from bankruptcy during the crisis is crucial to ensure the continuity of economic activity.

Pekcan said the country had to employ two-pronged strategies to fight both the medical and economic impacts of the pandemic and stated that it has performed well compared to other countries in the world.

The Turkish economy reported one of the fastest expansion rates among its peers in the first quarter of 2020 with a 4.5% year-on-year growth, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) announced Friday. The economy was expected to grow 5% in 2020 before the onset of the outbreak, as laid out in the country’s new economic program announced last September.

To slow the spread of the coronavirus, Turkey in March closed its borders, halted flights and imposed weekend lockdowns, all of which led to declines in trade, tourism and domestic demand. Some factories also temporarily halted production. However, the restrictions imposed in the country were less severe than many other countries, including hard-hit Italy and Spain, and were introduced within the first days after the first case was confirmed.

The virus has as of Sunday claimed more than 4,500 lives in Turkey, with more than 163,000 infections. However, the country has less than 40,000 active cases as more than 70% of the patients have recovered.

‘Quick recovery expected for local businesses’

Pekcan said the economic activity will begin its recovery process from Monday, when nearly all businesses, including restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities, reopen.

“We are expecting local businesses to recover financially and the economic activity to return back to pre-virus levels as people get back to their consumption habits,” Pekcan said, noting that the government has continued to actively support businesses during the recovery.

However, she noted that the reopening will be a gradual process and urged businesses to pay maximum attention to new safety measures.

“I have no doubt that our shop owners will follow the simple ‘mask, social distance and disinfection’ rule announced by the president.”

Pekcan said the government has taken extensive measures to protect small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including delaying credit payments of craftspeople and artisans to state lender Halkbank for three months without interest.

“In addition to that, the government provided other types of assistance such as an SME relief package, short-term employment allowance, postponement of premium payments.”

Pekcan said a total of 606,545 craftspeople and artisans received up to TL 15.3 billion credit as part of the Craftspeople Relief Package unveiled by Halkbank.

“These credit loans provided a lifeline to businesses which were forced to shut down during this struggling period,” the minister said.

She noted that Halkbank restructured and delayed around TL 3.5 billion credit payments of artisans and craftspeople that were due during the pandemic.