Turkish Cypriot poverty in north deepens

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The impoverishment of the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied north has worsened by the tumbling Turkish Lira due to political instability in Turkey, pushing inflation upwards and reducing their purchasing power.

A survey conducted by the Turkish Cypriot public sector union KTAMS suggests the community is sinking further into poverty.

KTAMS published a survey regarding the hunger and poverty lines based on a four-member family in the north.

It found the ‘hunger line’ to be at 4,065 Turkish Lira (TRY) – about €393 – a month, while the minimum wage dropped to 365 euro from 442 in February.

The hunger line calculates the amount a four-member family needs to meet its essential sustenance requirements and does not include other basic items such as clothing, rent, bills and petrol.

KTAMS said: “A family of four with only one of the parents working on minimum wage cannot live without going hungry. 

“A family on only a minimum wage of 3,773 TRY (€365) can meet its food needs for only 27 days, and that is if the family sacrifices all other expenses. 

“If they try to meet all of their daily needs, the money will only last them for 5.8 days”.

With rising inflation, the purchasing power of Turkish Cypriots is decreasing. 

Inflation in 2020 was 15.03%, while the increase in gross salaries of public officials introduced to match it was 12.9%. 

Inflation in Turkey in 2020 was 14.6% and 15.61% for the first half of 2021.

Despite sharing the same currency as Turkey, Turkish Cypriots have a harder time as imports, rents, and daily items in the north are indexed to either the euro or the Pound Sterling. 

Even daily consumer shopping at the supermarket reflects the fluctuations of the currency exchange rates.

The Turkish Lira has been in free fall for the past few years, going from 9.08 against the euro in January to 10.50 on June 15.

The majority of transactions in the north, however, are tied to Sterling.

Since January 1, 2020, the depreciation of the Turkish Lira against the Sterling has exceeded 50%. 

This means that someone with a 400 GBP monthly loan instalment would have needed 3,152 TL in January 2020; today, that person needs 4,872 TL, an increase of 55%.