What does growth data tell us?

I admit that the title seems quite intriguing but I’m going to be straight with you. GDP growth data tells us that we should be smarter. To tell you the truth, I’ve always been moderate and humorous in the way I criticised others. This habit of mine caused me to face arrows of criticism from chronic naysayers as well as chronic optimists. But I didn’t care really.

Because I know that the ones who entrusted with top positions have a feeling of increasing unease. Besides, as it takes them only a phone to reach me anytime they want; I wouldn’t want to say the things I should say to them over the media outlets. Except one thing; through my columns, I had to reach to some people who had shut their ears to my warnings about the wrong foreign trade regime policies between the years of 2014 and 2018. I’ve delivered numerous warnings about Turkey’s current trade policies which side effects have gradually arisen as large current account deficit, high inflation rate and high cost of living. I failed to get people listen to me. I was left with no other option but to share these warnings publicly since I’m a man who loves his country. A lot of people got offended by my words but they should know that my love for my country triumphs everything, including my and other people’s career plans.

By request of the Government, I participated in so many meetings, and many other similar activities to discuss and design financial emergency action plans as well as alternative models for economic growth. I moderated countless meetings attended by the Ministers where business people told them about their problems. I really owe government representatives a debt of gratitude since, at those meetings they listened very carefully to what business people were saying thus leading to sustainable solutions. Now, let’s see what got today.

Growth data that has been released yesterday reminded us once again of the one thing we should carry out as immediate as possible: Structural Reforms.

Numbers show us that it is not possible for Turkey to become a developed country without making substantial and sustainable changes in justice and law, education and freedoms. Turkish business world that wasted all its stocks cannot even move its finger because of fragile demand. Investments are significantly declining while household consumption capacity is about to collapse. Meanwhile, GDP growth is sustained only by public spending and exports.

“This model may soon cause us to drop out of the league…”

Contribution of exports to economy, which would normally be ignored due to its considerably small contribution to overall GDP growth, has become more visible than ever since the decline of other items. I really wish things could work like this in our happier days. But it’s nothing more than a wish, right? Because, Turkey’s structural situation forces people to keep on importing in order to sustain economic growth. Turkey became strictly dependent on imports since the Government has dissatisfied the intermediate goods producers and let the economy can only be sustained through shopping mall and housing construction.

Figures tell us that the Government kept on spending wildly despite its “We will start saving” declaration. Public sector shrinkage seems like a dream now because it is the State who keeps the growth alive which we were once so proud of.

I have a proposition: We don’t need that kind of growth. What we need is to achieve economic growth through high volumes of export and high value-added goods and services. Since the economy is shrinking, let’s make revisions to everything, from judicial system to education, incentives to public expenditures. If you are concerned about the upcoming elections, then let’s do this once March is over!

I’m telling you if we do not abandon this model, it would be only a matter of time before Turkey drops out of the G20, probably in 2030. We lose our dignity not only economically, but also in terms of politics and diplomacy. When this happens, Turkey’s unique geographic position will not be enough to save us.

Let’s quit saying, “What is going on?” and start saying, “How did others do it?”