ANKARA, Feb 13 (Reuters) – The worst earthquake to hit Turkey in nearly a century has left a trail of destruction that could cost Ankara up to $84.1 billion, a business group said, while a government official tallyed the figure more than 50 billion US dollars.
The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria from last Monday’s 7.8 magnitude quake approached 36,000 and appeared to be rising as the focus of the response shifted from rescuing survivors trapped under the rubble to shifted to providing shelter, food and psychosocial care.
A report released over the weekend by the Turkish Business and Trade Association put the cost of the damage at $84.1 billion — $70.8 billion from repairing thousands of homes, $10.4 billion from the loss of national income and 2 $.9 billion from lost workdays.
It said the main costs would be rebuilding housing, transmission lines and infrastructure, and meeting the short, medium and long-term shelter needs of hundreds of thousands who have been left homeless.
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President Tayyip Erdogan said the state will complete the housing reconstruction within a year and the government is preparing a program to “bring the country to a standstill”.
About 13.4 million people live in the 10 provinces affected by the quake, or 15% of Turkey’s population, and generate almost 10% of GDP.
The impact of the earthquake on gross domestic product is unlikely to be as pronounced as after the 1999 earthquake in northwestern Turkey that struck the industrial heartland, IMF Executive Director Mahmoud Mohieldin said on the sidelines of the Arab Fiscal Forum on Sunday.
Mohieldin added that after the initial impact over the next few months, public and private sector investment in reconstruction could boost GDP growth in the future.
Still, economists and officials estimated that the quake would shave two percentage points off economic growth this year.
The government forecast 5% growth in 2022 and had estimated 5.5% growth in 2023 before the quake.
Presidential and parliamentary elections are coming up in Turkey this summer – the biggest challenge for Erdogan in his two decades in power.
A three-month state of emergency has been declared in the 10 affected provinces and the central bank has postponed the payment of some loans. The Ministry of Finance declared force majeure until the end of July and postponed tax payments for the region.
Reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu and Orhan Coskun; writing by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Christina Fincher
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