Turkey plans to tap into $6.6 billion reserves

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak attends a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 10, 2019. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo)
Updated 14 May 2019
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Turkey plans to tap into $6.6 billion reserves

  • Turkey’s budget recorded a 36.2 billon lira deficit in the first quarter of 2019
  • Turkey’s economy tipped into recession last year after the lira fell sharply

ANJARA: Turkey is working on legislation to transfer the Turkish Central Bank’s 40 billion lira ($6.6 billion) legal reserves to the government’s budget, three economic officials have told Reuters.

The country’s budget, the sources claimed, are much deeper in deficit than had been expected, prompting the move. It is unclear when a draft law would reach parliament, though one of the sources said it could happen “soon.”

Turkey’s economy tipped into recession last year after the lira fell sharply. The currency is now under pressure partly due to worries over the bank’s depleted foreign exchange reserves, meant to defend against another crisis.

Separate to foreign exchange reserves, “legal reserves” are what the central bank sets aside from profits by law to be used in extraordinary circumstances. At the end of 2018, they stood at 27.6 billion lira, according to the bank’s balance sheet data.

A second source with knowledge of the matter said last year’s “legal reserves” combined with this year’s amounted to the 40-billion lira figure, which was cited by all three people who spoke to Reuters.

“The Turkish Central Bank has around 40 billion lira in legal reserves. The transfer of this amount to the 2019 central administration budget was seen as suitable. This step aims at improving and strengthening the budget,” the second source said.

It remains unclear how much of the reserves would ultimately be transferred and what, if any, new requirements would apply to the bank.

Officials from the bank and the Treasury could not immediately be reached for comment.

The transfer would mark the second recent move by Ankara to tap the bank’s funds to boost its budget. In January, it transferred some 37 billion lira in profits to the Treasury three months earlier than scheduled.

“I do not remember the use of legal reserves before. This method came up to stop further deterioration of the budget,” the first source said.

“There needs to be legislation to transfer the bank’s legal reserves. The new legislation is planned to be presented to parliament soon.”

Turkey’s budget recorded a 36.2 billon lira deficit in the first quarter of 2019, according to Treasury and Finance Ministry data. The deficit is expected to reach 80.6 billion lira by the end of 2019, not taking the possible tranfer into account.


Oil rises on US-Iran tensions, but trade war concerns weigh

Updated 25 min 44 sec ago
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Oil rises on US-Iran tensions, but trade war concerns weigh

  • There are expectations producer club OPEC will continue to withhold supply this year
  • President Donald Trump on Monday threatened Iran with ‘great force’ if it attacked US interests in the Middle East

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Tuesday on escalating US-Iran tensions and amid expectations that producer club OPEC will continue to withhold supply this year.
But gains were checked by concerns that a prolonged trade war between Washington and Beijing could lead to a global economic slowdown.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $72.24 per barrel at 0534 GMT, up 27 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 26 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $63.36 per barrel.
“Escalating tensions between the US and Iran, in addition to signs that OPEC will continue its production cut, drove oil higher,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at futures brokerage London Capital Group.
US President Donald Trump on Monday threatened Iran with “great force” if it attacked US interests in the Middle East. This came after a rocket attack in Iraq’s capital Baghdad, which Washington suspects to have been organized by militia with ties to Iran.
Iran said on Tuesday that it would resist US pressure, declining further talks under current circumstances.
The tension comes amid an already tight market as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other producers have been withholding supply since the start of the year to prop up prices.
A meeting has been scheduled for June 25-26 to discuss the policy, but the group is now considering moving the event to July 3-4, according to OPEC sources on Monday, with its de-facto leader Saudi Arabia signaling a willingness to continue withholding output.
Price gains were constrained by pressure on financial markets, which have this week been weighed down by worries that the United States and China are digging in for a long, costly trade war that could result in a broad global slowdown.
Singapore, seen as a bellwether for the health of the global economy, on Tuesday posted its lowest quarterly growth in nearly a decade of 1.2 percent year-on-year. Growth in Thailand, a key Asian emerging market, also slowed to a multi-year low.