Turkey targets informal economy

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s Labor and Social Security Ministry set up a telephone help-line yesterday to help cut the unregistered economy to below 10 percent in the next three years and clamp down on welfare fraud. Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Celik said 9.92 million Turks, including 5.023 million in the non-farm sector, are estimated to work in the black economy. Turkish Statistics Institute data show that the number of registered workers in Turkey in February was 20.162 million. As an example of welfare fraud, Celik said health benefits had been claimed for 10 births by the same woman in a single year. The help-line is part of a broader government plan to cut the size of the unregistered economy after it passed a long-awaited social security reform package, which raised the retirement age, and an employment package which cut the social security premiums of employers earlier this year. «We want to reduce the share of the unregistered economy to a more acceptable level, the European Union average, single-digit levels at the end of three years,» Deputy President of the Social Security Institution Veysel Uyar told Reuters.