Erdogan focuses on Turkish economy in first major coronavirus speech

In President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first major address regarding the spread of the coronavirus, the Turkish leader unveiled a number of measures designed bolster the nation’s economy one week after the first domestic Covid-19 case was confirmed.

“No virus is stronger than Turkey,” Erdogan told an audience in Ankara following a meeting with high-level officials to coordinate a national response to the global pandemic.

Introducing an economic stimulus package worth 100 billion liras ($15.4 billion), Erdogan said national insurance payments in 11 sectors would be suspended for six months, while credit payments for impacted companies would be frozen for three months. Other measures lowered the VAT on domestic air travel from 18% to 1%, suspended a hotel accommodation tax until November and increased minimum pension payments.

The Turkish leader also advised citizens to practice social distancing and stay at home if possible, without announcing additional measures to restrict movement. Prior to the speech, Erdogan had said the pandemic could become an opportunity for Turkish manufacturers as global companies seek to shift production away from China.

“If we can manage this one- or two-week process well in our country and curb the spread of the disease, we will have a good picture before us,” Erdogan said.

Read the full story on Al Monitor.