Some 2,800 officials coordinated by the Treasury and Finance Ministry have conducted inspections to see if businesses reduced prices in line with a recent cut in the value-added tax (VAT) on staple foods.
Dubbed “the Inflation Squads,” which include two tax inspectors and two other specialists, have already paid visits to around 10,400 locations, with focus particularly falling on the prices of meat, poultry products and eggs.
The government earlier this month slashed the VAT on staple foods to 1 percent from 8 percent in a bid to rein in the rampant inflation and called on businesses to follow suit and reduce their prices.
Officials from the task force are inspecting whether or how prices change along the chain from wholesale, production and retail sales.
They are also checking the businesses’ inventories and comparing monthly invoices to see average sale prices.
The number of price checks conducted will be increased to three times a day and inspections will intensify in provinces that are the main production bases, such as Konya, Balıkesir and Kayseri.
Officials have conducted inspections primarily at the food, automotive, home appliances, construction, and textile firms.
The teams are also looking at if companies, which are engaged in production activities, have excessive goods in their inventories. They are asking businesses in the food industry, which do not store goods in warehouses, whether they directly deliver the goods from producers to consumers.
Around 40 percent of all those inspections have taken place in Istanbul, the country’s most populous city and its financial and commercial hub.Around 400 to 500 officials are conducting the checks in the city. To date, they were able to visit 600 locations a day, but, in the period ahead, some 2,000 businesses can be inspected each day.
Separately, officials from the Trade Ministry have been inspecting the vegetables and fruits wholesale markets since Jan. 10 in 18 provinces.
The VAT cut and inspections came after consumer prices increased by 11.1 percent in January on a monthly basis, for an annual inflation rate of 48.7 percent. Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices rose by 10.9 percent month-on-month and 55.6 percent year-on-year in January.
According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), vegetable and fruit prices increased by 20.8 percent in the first month of the year from December 2021 and the annual increase in those items stood at nearly 44 percent.