Affirming that it is not possible to get out of the crisis without increasing production, Bartu Soral stressed that investments should be made as soon as possible in sectors where external dependence is high.

Bartu Soral, development economist: Turkey is going through a production crisis

The fact that the collapse of the Turkish lira could not be avoided, as well as the increase in inflation, turn eyes to the management of the economy. As interest rate hikes by central banks, especially the US, accelerate, one wonders what the government will do at this stage. Stating that Turkey’s problem is not self-interest, Bartu Soral, a development economist and former director of the United Nations Development Programme, said that many problems co-exist and they cannot be solved only by interest.


Stressing that there is a production crisis, Soral noted that investments should be made as soon as possible in sectors where external dependence is high.

Soral said: “The Republic of Turkey cannot wait for the pleasure of the private sector. We have seen this film again, in black and white. The film begins in 1923. Arrived in 1930, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk sees that the private sector does not invest, while Turkey has an urgent need for factories, a step is taken. Production had to stop imports. In 10 years, 44 factories were created from 1930 to 1940”. Giving an example of the petrochemical industry, Soral said, “The State Planning Organization planned and invested in TÜPRAŞ, Petkim and Petrol Ofisi as an integrated system in the 1960s. the petrochemical is naphtha. Petrochemical buys naphtha for 1, plant sells for 5. In other words, it’s a very profitable business,” he said.

Bartu Soral

The brains to produce the technology are not trained

Stating that Turkey, which ranks 50th in PISA and has no school among the top 500 universities in the world, has an education problem, Bartu Soral said the brains to produce the technology are not trained. Expressing that Turkey is making profits in foreign trade in labor-intensive sectors, Soral said, “If you want to raise the interest rate by a thousand basis points without closing the technology gap, the result will not change”. Noting that Turkey does not have a roadmap, Soral said, “Which sectors will we enter into regional and global competition in the next 5-10 years? It’s an economy run like a chicken with its head cut off,” he said.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during the factory tour after the opening of the Sümerbank printing factory. 09.10.1937

Atatürk acted with a spirit of planning

Stating that neoliberalism has taken hold of Turkey since 1980, Bartu Soral said the sale of public institutions to multinationals is taxed. Saying: “What we call the economy is the orientation of scarce resources towards good resources”, Soral recalled that over the next 12 months, 180 billion dollars will be paid to the external debt, of which $180 billion will be in principal and interest. and $40 billion current account deficit, and $220 billion will be paid. Well, why didn’t you build the facilities that created this foreign debt, stop the imports? What does the planning spirit do if it does not allow itself to be trapped by American neoliberalism? This is exactly what Atatürk did.

Atatürk built many factories in all branches of industry, from iron to sugar, from textiles to cement. He ended the country’s foreign dependence in many areas. It boosted Turkey’s economy.

450 billion dollars disappeared in 10 years

Explaining that the integrated system between TÜPRAŞ, Petkim and Petrol Ofisi was first disintegrated and then privatized, Bartu Soral said, “We were told that it would provide an excellent business model. The result is that no matter how much Petkim produced when it was privatized, it can meet the current 5% and only 15% increase in domestic petrochemical needs. For this reason, Turkey’s biggest import after energy is petrochemicals. A total of $450 billion has been paid out over 10 years.

Hundreds of factories, millions of square meters of land have been sold

The privatizations started in 1986 accelerated in 2002. Until the AKP came to power, only 8 billion dollars of privatization had been carried out. However, under AKP rule, Turkey’s most valuable factories were sold off one by one. During the period of AKP governments between 2002 and 2022, the total amount of privatizations exceeded $63 billion. Hundreds of factories, industrial plants, mines, ports, dams and coal-fired power stations have been sold. During this period, not only factories were privatized. At the same time, the most valuable lands received their share of privatizations. Over the past 20 years, at least 300 million square meters of Treasury land has been similarly privatized. As there are very few institutions left in public hands, the AKP tried to raise funds by selling valuable treasury lands on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.

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