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Turkish finance minister resigns amid currency crisis

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak attends a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 10, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has announced his resignation for health reasons, a day after the central bank chief was fired amid a currency meltdown.

“I have decided that I cannot continue as a minister, which I have been carrying out for nearly five years, due to health problems,” Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in an statement on his verified Instagram account on Sunday.

Albayrak, 42, was appointed as finance minister in 2018 after he served as energy minister for three years.

Turkey’s economy was hit by two bad slumps, double-digit inflation and high unemployment during his term.

His decision came as Erdogan dismissed the central bank governor on Saturday and replaced him with former finance minister Naci Agbal, who is known as a critic of Albayrak’s economic policies.

The lira has lost almost 30% of its value against the dollar this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, with investors worried about falling forex reserves and the central bank’s ability to tackle double-digit inflation.

Albayrak’s resignation is yet to be approved by President Erdogan.

Commenting on Albayrak’s decision, deputy Transport Minister Omer Fatih Sayan said on Twitter he hoped his resignation would be rejected, adding “our country, our people and our community need you”.

Mehmet Mus, the deputy parliamentary group chairman for the ruling AK Party, also said Albayrak had taken significant steps to reinforce the economy.

“We personally witnessed his diligent work. If our president sees fit, I hope he continues at his post,” Mus tweeted.

The lira surged after the departure of the top two economic policymakers. It firmed 2% to 8.3600 against the US dollar at 1904 GMT Sunday, and set the stage for a sharp rate rise, according to analysts.

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