Turkey's Erdogan vows to tackle inflation as food and rent prices soar

© DILARA SENKAYA Market shoppers in Istanbul, Turkey. Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government would bring surging prices under control and blamed “opportunists” for the rising cost of basic services.

Inflation rose for a third month to an annual 19.25 per cent in August, but many Turks say that price increases for food and rent have outpaced that.

The government is facing decreased support for Mr Erdogan, who is seeking re-election in less than two years.

“We are well aware of problems about the cost of living caused by inflation,” Mr Erdogan on Thursday told tradesmen in the central Anatolian city of Kirsehir.

“We will prevent excessive price increases on the shelves by placing inflation under control as soon as possible through lowering costs and fighting opportunists.”

The central bank in a recent report blamed agricultural drought in Turkey and around the world for acceleration in food inflation.

The jump in Turkish inflation in August pushed the benchmark interest rate adjusted for price growth into negative territory for the first time since October, dashing Mr Erdogan’s hopes for an early cut in borrowing costs.

Apart from food and rent, Turks are feeling the sting of higher prices for electricity and building materials.

The government ordered mosques to deliver sermons on Friday that warn sellers against inflating the prices of goods.

Worshippers should “avoid black-marketing and not act opportunistically”, the sermon for Friday prayers will say, according to the website of the Directorate for Religious Affairs.

Faithful Muslims “do not victimise individuals by overcharging”.

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