BERAT ALBAYRAK

Turkey 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

The Ministry of Treasury and Finance is working toward financial stability, focusing on financial restructuring and improving the country's current account balance, in addition to boosting domestic savings.

Berat Albayrak
BIOGRAPHY

Berat Albayrak has been the Minister of Treasury and Finance since 2018. He served as the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources for the 64th, 65th, and 66th governments and has been a member of parliament. Prior to his government positions, Albayrak served as an executive in the private sector in the economics, energy, and finance fields and taught banking and finance at Marmara University. He has an undergraduate degree from Istanbul University's business department and master's and PhD degrees from New York Pace University's Lubin School of Business.

After a year of significant reforms, the government remains committed to an ambitious agenda of economic transformation. With no elections for the next four years, Turkey offers great investment opportunities. We acted swiftly upon assuming office to restore price stability and guide the economy toward a more sustainable growth path. The results of our intervention are encouraging—inflation is already lower than a year ago, and single-digit inflation is within our grasp. The central bank continues to take measures independently to pursue its fight against inflation. In tandem, we are working to contain food prices by supporting the optimization of supply chains, with an expectation to reap the benefits of such initiatives. This is critical given food prices have been a nagging source of inflation since the early 2010s.

Following the structural transformation steps announced in April, certain policies have been implemented to improve the economic outlook in the near term as well as to increase the productivity and growth potential in the long term. Our goal is to achieve sustainable growth while addressing Turkey's main source of fragility, the chronic current account deficit, which has been financed by short-term debt.
Looking into the financial system, banks have capital adequacy ratios well above global benchmarks. However, we remain vigilant; state-owned banks received new capital injections in April, a number of privately-owned banks also raised capital, and the banking regulator has asked all banks to retain earnings. We are also developing state-of-the-art macroprudential oversight capabilities to detect systemic risks to financial stability.
The volume of credit, which contracted approximately 15% YoY, remains a serious concern. We want to ensure the system continues to provide an uninterrupted flow of credit to eligible businesses. The new law on financial restructurings shows our determination in this matter. In addition, we are keeping a close eye on banks as they work through distressed loans, particularly in the energy and construction sectors. It is worth noting that several international and domestic investors are interested in forming funds to acquire such loans. We are keen to introduce the necessary rules and regulations to extend our support to businesses.
A major policy initiative to boost domestic savings is to be announced. This will lead to long-term growth and reduce reliance on short-term capital flows. In addition, we are filling so-called information gaps by requiring firms with domestic bank borrowings exceeding TRY100 million to submit audited financial statements to their banks before they obtain loans. A national credit rating agency will further improve the information environment and deepen capital markets. Furthermore, there is great potential for growth in the insurance industry to supplement the diversity of funding sources.
Exporters have been playing a substantial role in the improvement of Turkey's current account balance. Their tremendous entrepreneurial drive shown in diversifying export markets to over 200 countries, benefiting from modern logistics, transportation, energy, and communications infrastructure, has been the backbone of export market growth. Targeted loan programs, launched in June, have been designed to further support in this regard.
Our sovereign wealth fund along with other state institutions are actively holding discussions with strategic partners in the pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, energy, and technology sectors in order to bolster the current account and attract foreign direct investment. In addition, significant joint exploration and production opportunities await investors in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey's natural endowments to become the preeminent energy, logistics, trade, and export base at the crossroads of three continents remain undeniably live and attractive.
Turkey's strong fiscal balance sheet is reassuring on the road toward re-establishing robust growth in 2H2019. We are about to undertake significant transformation of our tax code to strengthen tax administration, realize base expansion and reduce corporate taxes to create investments and jobs. Turkey's track record of fiscal discipline is self-evident and will never change. Other reforms including the effective functioning of the judicial system will be addressed before year end, contributing to a healthier and more predictable investment environment. These structural initiatives will be central looking toward the centennial of our republic in 2023.