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Turkey - Have things really changed?

Author: Metin Munir

    Turkey has one of the worst track records of any country for following through economic reform. It has signed 16 programmes with the IMF but abandoned all but two of them halfway through. Over the past 10 years there have been as many coalition governments - and a military intervention - each of which has launched its own economic stabilization programme. None amounted to anything.

But as Turkey enters the new millennium equipped with a new IMF accord, belief is virtually universal that this time success is within the country's grasp. For the past two months the market has been watching with growing incredulity as prime minister Bulent Ecevit's three-party coalition ticked off item after item on the reform agenda.

"If we all obey the dictates of the programme, and this includes the government and the politicians, inflation will come down," said Ayhan Sahenk, chairman of the Dogus conglomerate, Turkey's third largest, in a rare media appearance. "I believe that we will reap the fruits starting from June."

Sahenk said that the targets of his companies (which include the Garanti and Ottoman banks) have been revised to be aligned to those of the government.

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