Attracting foreign capital an urgent priority, says minister

Today’s Zaman - Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan answered questions from a group of managers from several leading Turkish newspapers in Istanbul. The minister has urged government officials to speed up their work on a law that aims to attract foreign capital to Turkey by providing investors extra insurance. Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said everybody agrees that Turkey will face its share of fallout from the global financial crisis because the crisis will impede the flow of capital and will decrease the amount of loans banks extend. The minister predicted that the crisis is very likely to create a liquidity squeeze in Turkey and underlined the importance of facilitating new investments into the markets. He said small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be among the first affected by the squeeze. He noted that the government set aside funds in the 2009 budget for small companies in an attempt to help them meet their increasing financing needs. He further said access to these resources will be simplified for small companies and interest rates will be much lower than market levels. Unakitan also pointed out the need to decrease the costs of hiring new employees in order to reduce unemployment. The minister stated that the government will continue to ease the borrowing requirements of the public sector. "We will continue to maintain fiscal discipline in the 2009 budget," announced the minister.