ECONOMY

Turk Telekom to slash work force

ANKARA (AFP) – Turk Telekom, a public company slated for privatization, announced yesterday it would reduce its work force of 70,000 people by 10 percent as part of IMF-sought austerity measures. Following a government decision encouraging the retirement of public employees, about 7,000 Turkish Telekom workers had applied to leave the company, according to Turkish Telekom head Ibrahim Hakki Alpturk. He said 1,200 workers had already left, while procedures for the remaining 5,700 applicants were to be completed in three months. Retirement of public employees is part of a package aimed at trimming public spending in 2002. The plans were unveiled last month in a bid to tighten financial policies in return for a vital new loan from the International Monetary Fund. The government has not said how many people will be made redundant, but press reports have suggested the target is 100,000. An IMF team is currently holding talks in Ankara to outline a strengthened economic program for 2002, which will be backed by fresh international aid. The Fund said last month it would consider a new loan for Turkey to close a financial gap of 10 billion dollars that emerged amid global woes in the aftermath of the September terrorist attacks in the United States. Under existing agreements, Turkey will have already received 15.7 billion dollars in aid from the IMF and the World Bank by the end of the year. Turkey has been stuck in a bottleneck since February when severe financial turmoil dragged the country into one of its worst-ever crises, causing the economy to shrink by 8.3 percent in the first three quarters.