Millions of workers and retirees in Türkiye are trying to make a living on a minimum wage of 5,500 liras and pensions, mostly ranging from 3,500 to 8,000 liras, in the face of climbing inflation rate that soared to 83.45 percent in September.
Putin Offers Additional Gas Supply to Europe
Despite soaring prices, store owners at the bazaar said the demand is robust, and their sales saw at least a 60 percent increase compared to 2021.
"I've been doing this job here for about 15 years. This year is different than the others. Because the demand is high in the face of this global problem with natural gas, and prices are rising," said Hakan Cetin, co-owner of a stove store.
According to Murat Celik, the owner of the stove producer Celik Soba, his factory has been accelerating its production round-the-clock to meet the increasing demands.
"Manufacturers are trying to deal with these excessive demands. In the past, we used to be able to supply our goods in one week, but at present, the delivery time can reach one month or one and a half months," he said.
In 2021, the natural gas bill of a modest three-room house in the coldest months of winter was as high as 1,500 liras in Istanbul, a city of over 16 million.
Behind the ever-growing prices of almost all items, the devaluation of the Turkish currency against the U.S. dollar plays a significant role. The lira lost over 40 percent of its value since the beginning of this year, and one dollar stood at 18.58 liras as of Thursday morning.
According to Türkiye's Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA), Türkiye imported 58.7 million cubic meters of natural gas in 2021, marking an increase of almost 22 percent compared to 2020. Russia ranked first in the exporter list, with the lion's share of 45 percent, followed by Iran and Azerbaijan.
EMRA said the rapidly rising energy prices due to the Ukrainian conflict have now evolved into a "global energy crisis." In the face of such a crisis, the authority emphasized that Türkiye has been doing its best to ensure supply security and protect consumers from sharp price increases before the winter.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said that his administration has already prepared all the gas and coal supplies that his country will need this winter. "And our next aim is to find out how we can deliver natural gas to our citizens even cheaper," he noted.