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Turkey tackles high unemployment levels with new scheme

Turkey’s unemployment rate increased to an eleven-month high of 11.1 percent in January [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 May, 2016

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Every company should take on one unemployed person, Turkish President Erdogan said in a speech to business leaders, while discussing ways to deal with the country’s rising unemployment rates.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come up with a novel scheme to rein in the country's high unemployment levels, saying that every company should take on one unemployed person.

Turkey’s unemployment rate increased to an eleven-month high of 11.1 percent in January from 10.8 percent in December, the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) said in April.

The number of unemployed people aged 15 years and over rose to 3.29 million in January, an increase of 31,000 from the previous year largely due to the rising labour force participation rate.

Turkey's main private sector organisation, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), has around one-and-a-half million members, Erdogan said in a speech to business leaders.

"If each member takes on one person... that would mean work for 1.5 million unemployed people" said Erdogan.

"Unfortunately, we cannot take our money to the grave. It remains here. In that case, let's give work to those who don't have any," he told a conference on health and work security in Istanbul.

"What would a company lose?" he asked rhetorically.

"Will it collapse if it hires one person? No, on the contrary, it will benefit. It's as simple as that," he concluded, to measured applause from the assembled business leaders.

Regularly accused of populism, it is not the first time the business community the Turkish president's interventionist approach on economic issues has worried the business community.

He has already made repeated calls on Turkey's central bank to lower interest rates, at the risk of boosting inflation.

After a prosperous decade, the Turkish economy has dropped off since 2012, with economic growth slowing to four percent last year, a high public spending deficit and unemployment at over 10 percent.

The country has also been shaken by a series of bombings, attributed to Kurdish nationalists or the Islamic State group, which have left its tourism sector in crisis.

Nonetheless Standard and Poor's on Friday upgraded its outlook for Turkey's credit rating, judging the prospects for the nation's economy to be stable despite political instability that may dampen growth and reform plans.

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