In a move that has stunned millions expecting government support against the COVID-19 crisis, Ankara has launched a campaign to collect donations from the public, lacking the funds to provide a meaningful social shield against the economic fallout of the pandemic, but reluctant — at least for now —- to seek support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated the campaign March 30, saying, “Our aim is to provide additional support to low-income citizens who have been affected by the measures [against the outbreak], particularly those living off daily wages.” He said he was donating seven months of his pay to the campaign.

Since March 18, when Erdogan unveiled a package of measures designed to cushion the economic shock of the pandemic, Ankara has come under fire for prioritizing companies and banks while doing little for households, unlike the US and European governments, which have offered “helicopter money” — or free cash transfers — to citizens, in addition to measures to prop up companies and the financial system.

Written by Mustafa Sönmez