Hundreds of Turkish Cypriots held a protest on Tuesday over the economic situation in the north that is leading people to poverty.
The protest took place outside ‘parliament’ in the northern part of Nicosia.
The event was organised by the Turkish Cypriot trade union platform, made up of nine unions, those of primary and high school teachers, ‘civil servants’, private sector and ‘municipal’ workers. Each union had said its members would strike during the protest.
Organisers criticise the Turkish Cypriot authorities for not taking measures to protect salaries and pensions from the freefall in the value of the Turkish lira. They also demand that the cost of living reflects salaries and a currency that will protect people’s purchasing power.
Turkish Cypriots are experiencing a drop in their purchasing power due to the steep rise in prices on essential items as a result of the devaluation of the Turkish lira. The currency is now getting slightly stronger but is still much weaker compared with recent years. One euro is now around 13.3 Turkish lira, an improvement from two weeks ago when one euro would get 18TL.
In the meantime, ‘prime minister’ Faiz Sucuoglu on Monday defended his ‘government’, arguing that it got a ‘vote of confidence’ just 44 days ago during which time the Turkish lira lost 60 per cent of its value leading to a 16 per cent contraction.
According to daily Kibris, Sucuoglu also said that if the exchange rate continues to fall against the Turkish lira there will be a reduction in fuel prices on Thursday and that companies are now reducing by 20 to 30 per cent. He also said that there were reductions in animal feed prices.
He recalled that the ‘government’s’ suggestion on the minimum salary has been published in the ‘state gazette’ and that there is now a 10-day objection period. The suggestion concerns raising the gross minimum salary as of January 1 to 7,000TL (around €500). The current minimum salary, 4,970TL (€370), was introduced in September.
Sucuoglu also said that they would pay on Tuesday 220m TL in pensions and that 262m TL for the salaries of ‘civil’ and ‘municipal’ servants would be paid on December 30, while 420m TL for 13th salaries will be paid by Monday and 115m TL for domestic debt on January 7.
He also referred to the impact of the pandemic on tourism and the construction sector.
Sucuoglu said that higher education foreign students are gradually returning to the north, but this has not brought the desired effect on the market, due to the financial difficulties they are also facing.