TURKEY: PM says government won’t buy privatised mills

Published: 03/14/2018, 2:10:04 PM

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said the government does not plan to buy sugar factories currently slated for privatization, apparently refuting earlier comments from Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba, according to Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News. 

"I have spoken with him [Fakıbaba] and he said he was misunderstood. Privatizing a sector simply to buy it back is out of question," Yıldırım said on Mar. 14, speaking to journalists before leaving for Azerbaijan.

His comments came after Fakıbaba said on March 13 that the government is "considering buying some factories as Agriculture Credit Cooperatives if the conditions are suitable."

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has initiated a privatization process of 14 of 25 state-owned sugar factories, drawing criticism from the opposition and related unions that argue the move will lead to the closure of factories, decreases in sugar beet agriculture, and victimization of farmers and workers.

Defending the privatization on the grounds that it will result in an increase of production, Fakıbaba said on March 12 that "if we think conditions are appropriate, we will consider buying some those factories through the Agriculture Credit Cooperatives [Tarım Kredi Kooperatifleri]."

Prime Minister Yıldırım, however, said the government is not planning to buy factories.

"What he meant is that we can participate as a cooperative, with only cooperatives able to bid to buy those factories. Otherwise Agriculture Credit Cooperatives, as a state initiation, being involved in such activity is out of the question," he added.