ECONOMY

Losing millions of billionaires

ANKARA (AFP) – To the relief of foreign tourists, baffled by the country’s inflated currency, Turkey is to reform its currency from next year by chopping six zeros from its banknotes. The Turkish lira is worth almost nothing: 0.00000068 dollars, or 0.000000555 euros. Put another way, a dollar will buy about a million and half Turkish lira, and a euro around 1.8 million. But a recent opinion poll suggests that local people, accustomed to a string of zeros, are worried about the reform, fearing it will be inflationary and half do not even know that it will come into effect on January 1 next year. For some months, the central bank has been printing new notes, shorn of the last six zeros, and this week began minting coins, kurus, worth one-hundredth of a pound. Kurus have been extinct for years: the lowest currency unit in use at present is the 50,000-pound banknote (3 US cents). The most valuable is the 20,000,000-lira note, which will buy four cinema places. The new notes will come into circulation on New Year’s Day and will be used in parallel with existing notes next year with prices marked in both old and new lira. Between now and then, the authorities will conduct a huge publicity campaign to explain the change to the public.