Turkey has significantly increased taxes on alcohol as part of a response to a 19-year high level of inflation of 36.1 percent recorded last month.
The Turkish government also raised taxes on tobacco products after increases in the price of petrol, car insurance and motorway tolls occurred recently.
Turkey suffered a dramatic drop in its currency’s value in 2021, as well as high inflation rates, after it followed an economic policy that emphasised low interest rates at any cost.
The Turkish lira lost more than 70 per cent of its value against foreign currencies last year.
Customers and bar and tavern owners in Istanbul have already said that fewer drinks are being bought and sold.
One tavern owner, Ismail Inanc, told Ruptly news agency: “I think the increases in the price of raki are too much. Our customers, who come once a week, will now start coming once a month. It is not just about the hikes in raki prices; prices of products related to appetisers, calamari, shrimp, cheese, appetisers were also increased.”
Sakin Akarslan, another tavern manager, said: “People eat their meal at home and come to the tavern. When they come here, they try to make do with a small bottle of raki, two pieces of cheese and melon. But it wasn’t like this before. They were getting 5-6 kinds of appetisers, they were eating the main course, they were eating dessert. But now they can’t.”
Serkan Fikir, another pub manager, said: “The hike, which is around 47 percent, is pushing us hard. There is a serious decrease in the alcohol consumption of our customers. Since the day we made sales at new prices with the hike, our customers have decreased. People don’t even go out. Today is Saturday, Kadikoy must have been very active. But the streets are also relatively empty, not only pubs.”
And Sezer, a customer, said: “I used to be able to come to the bar and drink as much as I wanted. I came to the bar today, ordered a beer. I asked how much is it. They said 30 liras. I earn minimum wage. I can have two beers. I’m undecided whether to have the third beer or not, because of the money.”
Although Turkey is a Muslim country, certain sections of the population enjoy a rich drinking culture. Turkey produces a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and raki, the country’s signature spirit.
Drinking became legal soon after the secular Republic of Turkey was established in 1923.