Reduce global poverty, Turkish minister urges G20

Turkey is urging the G20 states to turn its words into action, and work to reduce global poverty.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Faruk Celik made the rallying call at a International Labour Organisation (ILO) meeting in Geneva on Monday. "We believe that it is time for G20 states to translate its words into actions,” he said. 

Turkey assumed G20 presidency in December, taking over from Australia.

Celik went on to say that the G20 countries, which represent two thirds of the world’s population and 85 percent of the global economy, are one of the best examples for global solidarity.

Turkey G20

Widening gap

The widening income gap is sobering, he said. "The fact is the wealth of the 85 richest people equals the total income of 3.5 billion - in other words, half of the total global population. Unfortunately rich become richer while the poor became poorer."

"Every single night, one billion people in the world sleep hungry and the global number of migrants has exceeded 232 million."

According to the ILO, the rate of global unemployment has risen by 31 million over the past few years, and is now at 201 million. Of this figure, more than a third are young people.

"l call on countries and international organisations to take the necessary actions and help more for the sake of humanity," the minister said.

Banishing poverty in Turkey

Poverty in Turkey is at its lowest level in 10 years, according to the World Bank.

World Bank figures show that the poverty rate - people living on $2.5 a day - is now five percent, a sharp contrast to a decade ago when poverty levels were at 16 percent.

World Bank Turkey director Martin Raiser, speaking at a presentation in the southeastern province of Gaziantep this month, said the growing middle class will continue to flourish. "Turkey's economic transformation is an inclusive transformation and growth will continue to go in this direction."

Although Turkish income rates did not increase significantly between 1960 and 1990, in 2001 they began to change dramatically, approaching European and American rates, he said.

Gaziantep is a particularly dynamic region. Once mired in poverty, it’s now becoming prosperous - while Turkey’s export has increased 13 times over in the past quarter century, Gaziantep’s have risen 56-fold.

Raiser emphasised that the projects that have been rolled out in Turkey and transformed the country over the past decade provide “a model for many countries in the region”.

An emerging middle class

Turkey’s economic success since 2002 has been a result of increased investment from Europe, and an emphasis on trade with the emerging markets surrounding the country. In this way, Turkey has taken advantage of its position as a gateway to Europe and the Middle East. This was made possible by the political stability provided by the Erdogan-led AKP government.

While EU countries faltered during the global recession, Turkey remained strong and even grew, attracting more investment from its neighbours, especially less stable countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria.

The growing middle class in Turkey is reaping the economic successes of the past decade, resulting in a generation of Turks with better access to education and healthcare, and a greater political awareness.


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