ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Turks on Friday to step up efforts to boost the Turkish lira by converting more foreign currency, as the campaign launched earlier this month showed only limited effect.

Erdogan has spearheaded a national effort to boost the national currency, calling on people to change money “under their pillow” after the lira lost almost 20 per cent in value so far in 2016.

“I thank my people very, very much. But is it enough? It is not. I think my people should push this more,” he told reporters in Istanbul.

Since his call on Dec 2, Turks across the country have rallied to support the ailing currency through incentives while state institutions have converted assets into lira including the defence industry support fund.

In the latest move, Istanbul municipality said it was converting some $42 million (40 million euros) of assets held in US currency into Turkish lira.

Some local businesses have made headlines by offering free wedding packages, kebabs, shaves and even a gravestone for changing money. But economists doubt such moves will have a significant long-term impact in the face of political uncertainty and concerns over the already fragile economy.

The lira rallied briefly earlier this week but has lost ground over the last two days and was trading on Friday at 3.47 to the dollar, a loss in value of 1.2pc on the day.

Inan Demir, economist at Nomura International, said that Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had disappointed markets on Thursday by failing to announce sustained and concrete measures to support the lira.

Published in Dawn December 10th, 2016

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